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    Author(s): Thomas M. Williams; Donald J. Lipscomb; Christopher J. Post
    Date: 2004
    Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS–71. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. pp. 378-383
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: View PDF  (158 KB)


    Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been highly successful in protecting water quality throughout the Southeast. Numerous studies have found them to be effective in protecting water quality. Despite being mostly voluntary, compliance is generally about 90 percent across the region. Streamside Management Zones (SMZs) or riparian buffers are specified for perennial streams in all of the southeastern BMP manuals, and buffer width generally increases with land slope. However, that is where the similarity ends. Each State has specified different buffer widths in a variety of methods. For example, a creek with a side slope of 40 percent requires a 120-foot buffer in South Carolina but the same stream would require a 50-foot-wide buffer in Mississippi. We compared the various State specifications of SMZ on stream networks from watersheds in northwestern South Carolina, including three on the Clemson Experimental Forest where we evaluated South Carolina’s BMPs. We also tested methodologies on an independent watershed in north Georgia. We found guideline differ-ences consistent between watersheds and watershed differences consistent between guidelines. Size of SMZ was more influenced by drainage density than side slope, despite the explicit use of side slope in the guidelines. There was no entirely satisfactory way to map SMZ areas with publicly available data.

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    Williams, Thomas M.; Lipscomb, Donald J.; Post, Christopher J. 2004. Defining Steamside Management Zones or Riparian Buffers. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS–71. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. pp. 378-383

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