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Assessing the Short-term Impacts on Sediment Production following Rapid Harvest and Stream Crossing Decommissioning in Rocky Mountain Headwaters Open Access


Other title
Logging roads
Sediment production
Best Management Practices
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Corrigan, Amelia
Supervisor and department
Stone, Mike (Geography and Environmental Management)
Silins, Uldis (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
MacKenzie, Derek (Renewable Resources)
Anderson, Axel (Renewable Resources)
Department of Renewable Resources
Land and Water Resources
Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Master of Science
Degree level
While rapid road and road-stream crossing decommissioning after forestry operations may serve to limit broader impacts of sedimentation in high value headwater streams, few studies have evaluated the combined effects of accelerated harvest operations and rapid retirement of roads on stream sediment. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the initial impacts of these management strategies on sediment production and fate during a short duration (10-month) harvesting operation in three headwater sub-catchments in the southwestern Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada. A multi-pronged sampling approach (automated ISCO samplers, event focused grab sampling, continuous wash load sampling, and sediment ingress measurements) was used to measure suspended sediment production and ingress in streambeds. Sediment inputs from forestry roads was generally much lower than has previously been reported with little, if any, consistent pattern of elevated sediment production during the snowmelt freshet or periodic summer rainstorms. The impact of the combined disturbance of rapid harvest (2015) and subsequent road decommissioning (2016) on total suspended solids (p = 0.52), wash load concentrations (p = 0.61), and sediment ingress (p = 0.33) was largely negligible. In fact, turbidity was often higher (p < 0.001) at the upstream sample location across both years. Minimal in-stream impacts on sediment from forest harvest and road-stream crossings was likely a reflection of combined factors including a) employment of secondary erosion control Best Management Practices to roads and bridge crossings, b) rapid decommissioning of roads and crossings to limit exposure of linear land disturbance features, and c) drier El Niño climatic conditions during the study.
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