Guidance Regarding Forest Practices Guidelines (FPGs) in Storm-damaged Streamside Management Zones (SMZs)
The North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS) typically receives many calls asking about harvesting timber that has been damaged from severe storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Many of these questions deal with salvaging the damaged timber from within the Streamside Management Zones (SMZs). When dealing with forestland harvests, there are two aspects to keep foremost in mind when harvesting near and within the SMZs. One aspect is the Forest Practices Guidelines Related to Water Quality (FPGs), and the other aspect is the Division of Water Resources (DWQ) Riparian Buffer Rules. The FPGs apply to all intermittent streams and perennial streams and waterbodies in North Carolina. The DWQ Riparian Buffer Rules currently apply to qualifying surface waters in the Neuse River Basin, Tar-Pamlico River Basin, Catawba River Basin, Randleman Lake Water Supply Watershed, Goose Creek Watershed, and the Jordan Lake Water Supply Watershed. In these aforementioned river basins and watersheds, the FPGs and the DWQ Riparian Buffer Rules both apply simultaneously.
- The NCFS encourages the salvage of all downed timber to the extent possible. Proper and timely timber salvage can be done in a manner that benefits both the landowner as well as the environment. All necessary Best Management Practices (BMPs) should be utilized in order to remain in compliance with the FPGs.
- Timber that is down within the SMZ, but is not in or over the stream, should be removed in such a way that ground cover is protected / maintained to prevent accelerated erosion or sedimentation.
- Timber that is down within the SMZ and lying over the stream, but not causing a stream obstruction, may be salvaged. Again, care must be exercised to maintain adequate ground cover to prevent accelerated erosion or sedimentation. Additional debris should not be deposited in the stream as a result of the salvage operation.
- Timber that is down within the SMZ and is in the stream is a major concern. If all or part of the tree is to be salvaged, NCFS would prefer to see the whole tree pulled out of the stream, before it is limbed or bucked. However, if this is not done, remember – do not put any additional debris in the stream than what was put in it by the storm. As in the above situations, care must be taken to prevent accelerated erosion or sedimentation, and not deposit debris in the stream during the salvage operation. It is not the NCFS’s intent to deter salvage operations with unreasonable requirements of cleaning up problems the logger did not create and does not make worse. NCFS does strongly encourage, however, that when a tree in a stream is salvaged, as much of it is removed from the stream as is feasible.
- If a tree is across a stream or in a stream due to the storm and no attempt is made to salvage it, it can be left since it is there by an act of nature. If it is cut from the stump or otherwise disturbed in a salvage attempt, it is the logger’s responsibility to clean all debris from the tree from the stream.
- If timber is down within the SMZ, and the stream must be crossed, crossings must still be properly installed, maintained, and stabilized. Properly installed and utilized bridge mats are the PREFERRED method of crossing streams, since their use minimizes soil disturbance.
- Loggers are still expected to keep their equipment out of stream channels and to minimize equipment use in SMZs as much as possible to prevent FPG problems.
If you have additional questions or require further assistance, site visits, etc., please contact your county forest ranger.