Salvage Logging Storm-Damaged Timber Along Waterways
After a storm or wildfire damages your woodlands, consult with a professional forester or arborist to assess the extent of damage and if salvage logging is warranted. If trees are damaged or blown-over within the Streamside Management Zone (SMZ) or riparian buffer, take extra considerations.
The state water quality rules for forestry, which includes the FPGs and special Riparian Buffer Rules in certain areas, allow salvage logging to occur. However, there is no exemption from complying with the rules. Care must still be taken to protect water quality from impacts during forestry operations.
Consider these questions and recommendations when thinking about salvaging timber along streams after a storm:
- Is there a safety hazard from leaning, killed, or hung-trees? Those trees should be prioritized for removal by a professional if possible.
- Is it worth it? Will the logging equipment damage the soil and streambanks more than the storm damage? Is the value of the salvaged trees worth the potential site damage to extract them? The soil must be dry enough to support the machinery and prevent rutting or compacting (see Forestry Leaflet #FM-14, "Protecting Soil Resources"). Downed wood along the stream can improve habitat for amphibians and small mammals. Rotten wood is a natural part of the ecosystem, so it may be better to leave the wood to recycle into the soil.
- If the tree, or a portion of it, has fallen into a stream or ditch and is blocking water flow, consider removing it from the channel. Avoid gouging the soil near the waterway. Repair any soil disturbance caused by the salvage work.
- During any logging or tree removal, be careful not to add any more soil or debris into the waterway. If more soil/debris falls in during the logging/salvaging, remove it promptly.
- If a tree has fallen across a waterway channel, but has not fallen down into it, it may be salvaged. If the tree is salvaged, try to lift the tree during removal, and avoid dragging it out. If tree limbs fall into the waterway during the salvaging, remove that debris promptly.
- Keep heavy equipment out of the stream channel. Do not excavate or dig out the stream! Avoid crossing the stream whenever possible. Stream crossings must comply with the FPG standards (see Forestry Leaflet #WQ-1). Bridgemats are the preferred option for temporary waterway crossings.
The County Forest Ranger’s office can assist by inspecting the site for FPG compliance, offering BMP recommendations, and explaining reforestation options.