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Kimberly Bohn, University of Florida, kkbohn@ufl.edu (Presenter)

 

Wetland logging has received considerable scrutiny in recent decades because of potential effects of modern harvesting on site regeneration, ecosystem recovery and subsequent impacts to water quality. The objective of this work was to examine the effectiveness of mat logging BMPs on reduction to soil impacts and subsequent vegetative recovery in cypress-tupelo wetlands in Florida. Study sites included 5 mat-logged and 6 conventionally bottom-logged stands ranging in age from 3 -15 yrs, as well as 4-second growth reference stands. We determined skid trail areas from aerial imagery, measured depth changes across skid trails, and took field measurements of soils and tree regeneration on- and off-trails at each site. Skid trails in conventionally bottom-logged sites covered more than twice the area than in mat logged sites (27.9 vs 13.6%), and were generally twice as deep (30 – 45 cm vs. 10 – 25 cm). Soil bulk density did not differ between logging methods, suggesting that conventional bottom logging had a greater effect on soil displacement than compaction. Stem densities were variable across all sites (1000 – 5000 stems/ac) but generally didn’t differ on and off trails. However, basal area of regeneration was always higher off- than on-trail, underscoring the importance of minimizing skid trail extent, as it appears to have a direct effect on site productivity. Species composition, as indicated by relative densities and basal area by species, was similar between reference and logged sites. Over extended successional periods it appears that the harvested sites are on a trajectory to recover as intact forested wetlands.