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Allegheny National Forest & Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Collaborate on Large Wood Projects

Saturday, June 27, 2020 @ 12:06 AM

Posted by Aly Delp

20200601-FS-Allegheny-BK-001WARREN, Pa. – The Allegheny National Forest and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy have implemented several large wood projects on streams in the Forest, including East Branch Spring Creek, Mud Lick Run, Meade Run, and Salmon Creek in an effort to restore physical and biological functions of stream ecosystems.

(Pictured: A recently installed large wood structure. Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service)

The Allegheny National Forest and its partners are working together to restore some of these benefits of large wood in streams. In these projects, teams will directionally fall carefully selected trees that will benefit the stream function and improve fish habitat. For some of the structure’s logs are positioned using a capstan winch or a grip-hoist, both of which take considerable time and rigging to get the logs into place.

These types of projects look very different from the types of streams we are used to fishing.

The now destabalized large wood structure with large portions of the trees cut away. Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

The now destabalized large wood structure with large portions of the trees cut away. Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

During flooding events, large wood helps to slow flows and divert excess water up onto the floodplain, where it can be stored and reduce downstream flood damage. This process also helps to reduce erosion and filter sediment out of the stream, which improves the water quality. The introduction of large wood into a stream alters flow patterns which can create pools and other areas of slow water flow that provide critical resting space for fish. The wood creates cover and shade in the water for many aquatic species, while also providing surfaces for birds and reptiles to perch above the water.

In order to uphold the integrity of these structures so they can continue to provide benefits to their ecosystems, it is important that no part of the structure is removed from the site. Cutting trees that are part of large wood structures can destabilize the structures and cause them to move downstream during floods.

Firewood should not be collected:

· If any portion of the tree is within 10 feet of stream channels.
· Within 200 feet of Wilderness Trout Streams, Remote Trout Streams, and Class A Trout Streams.
· Within 25 feet of wetlands, including springs and seeps, and vernal pools because frogs and salamanders use the downed wood for habitat.

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