Forest operations and water quality in the south
Southern forests, which rely on intensive management practices, are some of the most productive forests in the U.S. Intensive forest management utilizes forest operations, such as site preparation, fertilization, thinning, and harvesting, to increase site productivity and reduce rotation time. These operations are essential to meet the ever-increasing demands for timber products. Forest managers utilize forest operations as tools in an attempt to manage the nation's forestlands for multiple uses while maintaining or improving resource quality. Forest operations can influence nonpoint-source (NPS) pollution by disturbing natural processes that maintain water quality. In recent years, NPS pollution has been identified as the nation's largest source of water quality problems. Forest management activities have been identified as activities that influence NPS pollution in the South. Results of watershed-scale studies that investigated the effect of forest operations on water quality in the 13 southern states are highly variable. However, taken collectively, the results indicate that forest operations have little impact on the quality of water draining from forests in the South. Based on this review, best management practices (BMPs) show the potential to protect water quality following forest operations; however, accurate assessments of the overall effectiveness of BMPs are not possible because the benefits of BMPs on different scales are relatively unknown.
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