Effects of Best Management Practices on forest streamwater quality in eastern Kentucky

M. A. Arthur, G. B. Coltharp, D. L. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Forest land managers are concerned about the effects of logging on soil erosion, streamflow, and water quality and are promoting the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) to control impacts. To compare the effects of BMP implementation on streamwater quality, two of three small watersheds in Kentucky were harvested in 1983 and 1984, one with BMPs, the other without BMPs. There was no effect of clearcutting on stream temperatures. Streamflow increased by 17.8 cm (123 percent) on the BMP watershed during the first 17 months after cutting and by 20.6 cm (138 percent) on the Non-BMP watershed. Water yields remained significantly elevated compared to the uncut watershed 8 years after harvesting. Suspended sediment flux was 14 and 30 times higher on the BMP and Non-BMP Watersheds, respectively, than on the uncut watershed during treatment, and 4 and 6.5 times higher in the 17 months after treatment was complete. Clearcutting resulted in increased concentrations of nitrate, and other nutrients compared to the uncut watershed, and concentrations were highest on the non-BMP watershed. Recovery of biotic control over nutrient losses occurred within three years of clearcutting. The streamside buffer strip was effective in reducing the impact of clearcutting on water yield and sediment flux.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-495
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1998


  • Buffer strip
  • Forest hydrology
  • Nonpoint source pollution
  • Nutrient flux
  • Silvicultural management
  • Streamflow
  • Suspended sediment
  • Watershed management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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