After a forest fire burns a large swath across timberlands, logging companies often are not far behind. They come in to do what is called salvage logging--salvaging the timber that has not been completely destroyed by the fire.
It sounds like a good idea, since even the timber from burned trees can be used for lumber. Economic benefit can come from otherwise devastated land. Even the name has a warm, fuzzy ring to it: salvage logging.
Feller bunchers are heavy equipment used in salvage logging to cut down burned trees and pile them up.
Credit: Michigan Tech
The only problem is, the ecological effects are unknown.
Actually, that's not quite true. For over a decade, Joseph Wagenbrenner, assistant professor in Michigan Technological University's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, has been examining salvage logging at four forest fire sites in Montana, Colorado and Washington. He and his research team studied the effects of salvage logging on the ground cover, soil compaction, sediment in water runoff and regrowth of vegetation, compared to control plots that were not logged after a fire.
Specifically, they looked at the impact of various salvage logging practices, including the trails made by the most commonly used equipment: feller bunchers--heavy machines that drive uphill, cutting and piling up trees--and skidders, which pick up the piles of trees and drag them back downhill.
They found that the amount of sediment in runoff water increased measurably on the smaller plots, but the increase was not consistent on larger tracts of land. The amount of sediment running downhill and the compaction of the ground was greater where the feller bunchers and skidders were used. The more firmly compacted ground becomes, the less water can soak in and the more runoff and erosion can occur.
Wagenbrenner and colleagues published results of the US Forest Service-funded study in the January 2015 issue of the journal Forest Ecology and Management.
Why is sediment an issue? It can cause flooding, when streams and reservoirs get clogged. At one of the study sites, where the Hayman fire burned 140,000 acres of the Pike-San Isabel National Forest in central Colorado, the sediment runoff was so bad that one of the main reservoirs serving Denver had to be dredged.
Sediment can also damage fish habitat, raising water temperature and killing food sources. And it fills pools and streams with organic matter that is hard for water treatment plants to process, Wagenbrenner explains.
Sometimes salvage logging operations leave the small branches and treetops on the ground. This material, called slash, helped ameliorate the erosion and sediment problem, the researchers found.
His team's recommendations for best management practices for salvage logging include:
Michigan Technological University is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.
Joseph Wagenbrenner | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Colorado > Ecosystem > Forest Ecology > Sediment > business economics > control plots > food sources > forest resources > management practices > new technologies > social sciences > soil compaction > treatment plants > water temperature > water treatment > water treatment plants
Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences