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Suspended sediment and turbidity after road construction/improvement and forest harvest in streams of the Trask River Watershed Study, OregonAuthor(s): Ivan Arismendi; Jeremiah D. Groom; Maryanne Reiter; Sherri L. Johnson; Liz Dent; Mark Meleason; Alba Argerich; Arne E. Skaugset
Source: Water Resources Research. 53(6): 1-21.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionTransport of fine-grained sediment from unpaved forest roads into streams is a concern due to the potential negative effects of additional suspended sediment on aquatic ecosystems. Here we compared turbidity and suspended sediment concentration (SSC) dynamics in five nonfish bearing coastal Oregon streams above and below road crossings, during three consecutive time periods (‘‘before’’, ‘‘after road construction/improvement’’, and ‘‘after forest harvest and hauling’’). We hypothesized that the combined effects of road construction/improvement and the hauling following forest harvest would increase turbidity and SSC in these streams. We tested whether the differences between paired samples from above and below road crossing exceeded various biological thresholds, using literature values of biological responses to increases in SSC and turbidity. Overall, we found minimal increases of both turbidity and SSC after road improvement, forest harvest, and hauling. Because flow is often used as a surrogate for turbidity or SSC we examined these relationships using data from locations above road crossings that were unaffected by roads or forest harvest and hauling. In addition, we examined the association between turbidity and SSC for these background locations. We found a positive, but in some cases weak association between flow and turbidity, and between flow and SSC; the relationship between turbidity and SSC was more robust, but also inconsistent among sites over time. In these low order streams, the concentrations and transport of suspended sediment seems to be highly influenced by the variability of local conditions. Our study provides an expanded understanding of current forest road management practice effects on fine-grained sediment in streams and introduces alternative metrics using multiple thresholds to evaluate potential indicators of biological relevance.
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CitationArismendi, Ivan; Groom, Jeremiah D.; Reiter, Maryanne; Johnson, Sherri L.; Dent, Liz; Meleason, Mark; Argerich, Alba; Skaugset, Arne E. 2017. Suspended sediment and turbidity after road construction/improvement and forest harvest in streams of the Trask River Watershed Study, Oregon. Water Resources Research. 53(6): 1-21.
KeywordsSuspended sediment, forest harvest, forest roads, clear-cut, riparian buffer, hydrology.
- Sediment production in a coastal watershed: legacy, land use, recovery, and rehabilitation
- Turbidity threshold sampling: Methods and instrumentation
- Turbidity-controlled suspended sediment sampling for runoff-event load estimation
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