Forest Roads And Their Effect On Water Quality Forest Roads And Their Effect On Water Quality Roads are often necessary to perform certain tasks in the forests. When roads are made, they often pose the problem of erosion, and damage to nearby water sources. The two articles I read on this topic were both from the August 1999 issue of the Journal of Forestry. Both discuss the different techniques and methods for trying to limit the amount of silt that contaminates roads due to disturbance. The first article, What We Know- and dont know- about Water Quality at Stream Crossings, discusses the different methods used to cross streams, and which method causes the most long term, and short term damage to water supplies.
Forest road crossings have become a concern, because they are places where disturbance, and water run off cause silt to get into streams and water sources. The three main methods discussed in detail in this article for crossing a stream are: fording, using culverts, and either a temporary or permanent bridge. The most impactive method, according to this article was the practice of river fording. This method causes inordinate amounts of downstream silt because every time a vehicle fords a crossing, some contaminates are added to the water, in addition to the silt on the stream bottom that is disturbed and washed downstream. In terms of impact, putting culverts in a stream causes about the same initial impact, as creating a ford, but subsequent impact is less, because cars are no longer forced to drive through the water.
Culverts can cause problems too, because of the potential for them to plug up, causing washout, and silt deposits. The third, and most preferable method, according to this article, is the construction of bridges (either permanent, or temporary). By doing this, virtually all contaminants remain free of stream water, because the actual stream does not have to be disturbed. The second article summarized, Forest Roads: Where Soil and Water Dont Mix shared similar opinions on most points. This Article brought up several additional and perhaps more idealistic points. According to this article, most resource damage in an area is done in the first two years after a road is constructed.
During construction, this article points out that it is wise to limit the number of stream crossings to a minimum. When crossings are necessary, though, this article suggested the use of sediment ponds, and not allowing water to build up its mass and momentum. When momentum is built up, water will erode more of the earth, causing more sediment build- up in streams. Personally, I did not really realize that there was even an issue of too much sediment in streams due to forest roads, and stream crossings. It was amazing to learn of all the dangers to the environment caused by yet another type of pollution.
This problem might not cause the immediate and drasti problems that other environmental issues might, but eventually, because of our interactions with the forest and its waterways, we might alter the ecosystems in ways that we cant even fathom. Science Essays.