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Timber and Tracks: Practices for Limiting Soil Disturbance During Harvest Operation

Posted date: July 29, 2021
Publication Year: 
Authors: Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.;
Document type: Other Documents


A new GTR reviews timber harvest operations and their effects on soil sustainability to help forest managers understand and limit impacts and allow national forests to continue to produce ecosystem services and goods. The main types of soil disturbance from timber operations are compaction, soil displacement and erosion, and rutting and puddling on the soil surface resulting from traffic. Some of these impacts may be severe enough to require restoration. Soil disturbance monitoring is the best way to understand pre-harvest soil conditions and relate that data to post-harvest effects and recovery to determine if restoration is needed. The harvesting system used for logging affects the extent of the soil disturbance, with ground operations having the largest impacts. Cut-to-length systems that distribute logging residues as slash mats across a site can serve as a cushion to keep equipment from severely impacting the soil.

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