In 2000, we established a long term study in the upper Piedmont of Virginia to evaluate a variety of streamside management zone widths and harvests that will help landowners and managers quantify the areas width and harvest level that provides the desired societal water quality protection while minimizing the landowner costs.
It's also evident that the differing streamside management zone widths left by the landowner during harvest had no significant impact on water quality through the first year (Table 1).
Streamside management zone research is important to verify what we think we know about land use practices, their impacts on water quality, and pollution prevention measures.
Other more intensive landuses such as grazing, row-cropping, and development would likely require different streamside management zone widths depending on a variety of factors such as pollutant loadings above the streamside management zone, site, and soil characteristics, and precipitation patterns.
Soil erosion from harvested sites versus streamside management zone deposition in the Piedmont of Virginia.
Table 1: Water quality data for the streamside management zone project in Buckingham County, Virginia.
Numerous studies have indicated that streamside management zones can help maintain cooler stream temperatures (Zwieniecki and Newton, 1999; Swift and Messer, 1971; Hewlett and Fortson, 1982).
The woody vegetation associated with streamside management zones also has the potential to provide both fine and course woody debris to the stream channel and floodplain.
Streamside management zones are also effective at removal of nutrients such as nitrogen or phosphorus.
In addition to the water quality benefits associated with streamside management zones, these areas may also have major benefits for a variety of wildlife species.