2017 Hot Topics
Each year, Stimson compiles and summarizes the available BMP and FPA compliance information of our log suppliers and from other woods producers across our fiber supply area. We then use this information to help us identify subject areas to focus our educational outreach efforts in the coming year. We call these our “Hot Topics”.
In 2017, our Hot Topics include: Stream Protection, Landing Location, Stabilizing Erodible Soils and Disposing of Petrochemical Containers.
Unfortunately, inadequate stream protection continues to be one of the most common compliance issues in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana. Operating ground based equipment within the stream protection buffer continues to be the predominant problem.
Stream courses in ID, OR, WA, and MT are all protected by state law. Each state has a unique set of rules to guide operations adjacent to streams. It is critical that these laws be adhered to in order to protect both water quality and important fish and wildlife habitat.
As a forest owner or operator, there is no more important information to educate yourself on than the Stream Protection laws in your state. Stimson highly encourages you to learn these laws and to strictly follow them. If you have any questions pertaining to their meaning or on-the-ground implementation, please contact your state forestry office, or Stimson forester.
Please click on the links below for more information:
“Location, location, location”. We often hear that slogan in the real estate business, but it is also true in regards to forest management. The log landing is where everything comes together on a logging operation, and a log landing can often make or break a logging operation. Too often an open area or a previous log landing is quickly chosen without thinking about the proximity to a stream course or proper drainage. Proper planning and layout of the landing is vital to a successful logging operation.
Landings should be located in well-drained areas where minimal excavation is required and sedimentation is reduced. Locate landings away from natural drainage systems. If a landing needs to be placed upslope of a stream course there are some things that can be done to mitigate sedimentation. Place hay bales in ditches or low spots that may flow run-off to catch sedimentation. Place rolling dips or water-bars between the landing and stream course to divert run-off from the road.
In general, it is best to minimize the size and number of landings. If possible, try to reuse an existing landing, if it is located properly. The size of a landing is usually restricted by topography. In cases where topography does not limit size it is best to mark the boundary of the landing with flagging to keep it contained.
Slash piles should be free of dirt and debris and placed away from standing trees. The best way to pile slash is with an excavator or log loader. If a cat is used, a brush rake should be incorporated and extra care needs to be taken to minimize the amount of dirt that could end up in the slash pile. Large chunks of wood or un-hauled pulp logs can be brought back into the woods and left as course woody debris.
Course woody debris is important for soil nutrition and wildlife habitat. Removal of these large wood chunks will result in a cleaner burn and reduced smoke. Contrary to popular belief, saw bars, oil filters, and cable do not burn in a slash pile. These items need to be removed from the site and disposed of properly.
With the focus of biomass and renewable energy, chipping or grinding slash piles is becoming more common place and is a good alternative to burning. Special consideration for slash pile location and chip van accessibility is necessary if considering this option.
All hazardous chemicals need to be placed as far away as possible from streams to protect them from contamination. This includes empty hydraulic oil buckets, used oil filters, and empty grease gun cartridges. Far too often hazardous chemicals are placed “out of the way” from the logging operation and end up being placed in a stream protection zone.
After the logging is complete, there are still some items that need to be done to close out a landing. Exposed soils should be stabilized with grass seed and straw. If the landing will not be reused in the near term, consider replanting it. Ditches and culverts should be cleaned of slash and any blockages removed. Roads should be re-contoured to allow for drainage and water bars installed if necessary.
Stabilizing Erodible Soils
On newly constructed or reconstructed roads, it's important to effectively stabilize erodible soils as soon as possible, especially when working around streams and other water bodies. Exposed soils from road activities can pose a high level of risk in terms of sediment reaching streams. Depending on the specific situation, applying rock and/or grass seed to road surfaces, grass seed and straw mulch to cut and fill slopes, and rip rap materials to unstable slopes can all be effective and recommended methods of securing erodible soils.
The need to stabilize erodible soils should be taken into consideration when planning the timing of road construction and reconstruction projects. It's critical that erodible soils are effectively stabilized prior to heavy rain and runoff periods, such as those that typically occur in the late fall and early spring. Working on road projects late into the fall season can be risky, as it can often be difficult to apply rock, install cross drains, or establish grass seed before winter weather arrives.
Disposing of Petrochemical Containers
Most logging machinery requires routine maintenance to keep it in good working condition, and this maintenance often involves the use of petrochemicals, such as oil, grease, and other fluids. It's not only important to make sure that these fluids are stored properly, and the maintenance performed well away away from streams and other water ways, it's also important that the empty containers associated with these fluids are disposed of properly.
Leaving empty petrochemical containers and other trash out in the woods is not only considered littering and an eye sore, it's also against the law in most States. Idaho law specifically states that, "waste resulting from logging operations, such as crankcase oil, filters, grease, oil containers, or other non-biodegradable waste should be removed from the operating area and disposed of properly".
As tempting as it may be to leave these containers on-site, or throw them into a nearby slash pile, this is not only potentially harmful to the environment, but it is also illegal.
Stream crossings pose a particularly high risk of sediment reaching a water body. Both cut and fill slopes can be vulnerable to erosion, and by their very nature, are very close to water ways. Therefore, it's extremely important to stabilize and secure these areas as soon as possible, usually within hours or days of installation. Applying rock armoring around the inlet and outlet, and grass seed and straw mulch to exposed soils can be effective methods of preventing erosion.
*disposing of empty petrochemical containers and other trash by throwing them into slash piles is a poor practice and illegal in most states.
Please be responsible and do the right thing; dispose of empty petrochemical containers and other trash materials properly. Transport these items back to town and drop them off at your county solid waste transfer station.