Wetland Forest Management

All wetlands provide beneficial functions to our environment. They reduce flooding, trap and filter pollutants, clean groundwater and provide abundant wildlife habitat. At one time there were an estimated 1, 566, 000 acres of wetlands in Kentucky. As of 1978, only about 637, 000 remained (REP America, 2002). Kentucky has lost over 80% of its original wetland acreage (Dahl and Johnson 1991).

photo: © Courier-Journal

Not all wetlands look wet all year long. This photo shows a bog during a dry summer. The bog acts like a giant sponge, gradually releasing water underground to feed the forest. The cinnamon ferns in this photo are common bog plants in Kentucky. They sometimes grow upwards of 4 feet.

Forestry operations can devastate wetlands and should only be considered with great care and planning. The best practice to protect your wetlands is to identify, flag the boundary and consider these areas off limits to forestry operations.

Fens and bogs are typical forested wetlands found in Kentucky's Appalachia region. Fens and Bogs are peat-forming ecosystems with high water tables, accumulation of organic matter (peat), and low nutrient availability to plants. In Canada, fens and bogs can cover several square miles; in Kentucky they are limited in size to just a few acres. Therefore, protecting their unique contribution to Kentucky's environment is very important.

Harvesting trees in wetlands can alter the hydrology of the wetland, thus, changing the wetland's functionality forever. Potential forestry operation impacts occur from road and skid trail construction, log decks, and harvesting. Since wetland areas are considered fragile, each wetland should be regarded as a hands off zone. You should be aware of the numerous laws and regulations (both federal and state) that apply to forestry activities. Accordingly, forestry activities in wetland areas require special permitting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This is required by Section 404(a) of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States. The best practice to protect your wetlands is to identify, flag the boundary and consider these areas off limits to forestry operations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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