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Best Management Practices Protecting Water and Soil Resources at National Forest Ski Areas Paul K. Flood Soil Scientist Wasatch-Cache National Forest Adapted From: Best Management Practices SKI AREA BMPs USDA_Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Wasatch-Cache National Forest Objective to provide basic information to Tour with a Ranger interpretive specialists about: Water quality concerns in LCC associated with historic uses of the area Common effects of ski area development and operations on soil and water resources Use of Best Management Practices (BMP’s) to protect water quality, streams, and vegetation Post construction restoration of soil and vegetation Overview What is a BMP? Why protect water quality? Construction planning and design Overview of water quality protection Overview of land reclamation Water Quality Protection BMP Slideshow Soil and Vegetation Restoration BMP Slideshow What is a BMP? multiple choice: an image file format a military infantry fighting vehicle a way to prevent water pollution a really poor choice of acronym all of the above What is a Best Management Practice? A Best Management Practice (BMP) is a practice or combination of practices that have been determined to be the most effective and practicable means of preventing or reducing non-point source pollutants. BMP’s associated with forest management activities are designed primarily to prevent or reduce soil erosion and the pollution of surface waters, by controlling storm-water runoff from construction and other kinds of ground disturbing projects. Alpine ski areas under permit with the National Forests must implement Ski Area BMP’s whenever they are engaged in ground disturbing activities on National Forest lands. I. Why Protect Water Quality? Ski area construction projects can affect water quality and stream environments. If not controlled, erosion and sedimentation can lead to: increased filtering costs for drinking water increased flood potential degraded fish habitat poor revegetation Alta Collins-Wildcat Base Area weed invasions Renovation, Summer 2004 Which Streams to Protect? Perennial Flowing Streams Which Streams to Protect? Wetlands and intermittent/ephemeral channels need protection as well Common Pollutants at Ski Areas Sediment from construction projects Cement/Concrete from construction projects Road Salt from snow removal work Fuel/Lubricants from vehicles and snowcats Heavy Metals from vehicles and mine tunnels Snowmaking additives? Explosive Residues? Historic Mining Metal Pollution - LCC N N^ ^ 1998 USGS Study - Dissolved Zinc Concentration Sample Locations Historic Mining Metal pollution - LCC N Wasatch Drain Tunnel above Snowbird ^ Tanner Flat area Howland Tunnel below Alta Lower Lot 1998 USGS Study - Dissolved Zinc Concentrations Metal Pollution from Historic Mining - LCC Current Efforts to Lower Zinc Concentrations in LCC Completion of TMDL study to determine where zinc loads are coming from, and where they should be reduced to meet water quality objectives Alta Wetland Fen Pilot Project : Improvements to the design and operation of the peat moss wetland to treat a more of the Howland Tunnel drainage Treatment strategies that adjust the timing and amounts of water releases from the Wasatch Drain Tunnel associated with domestic water and cogeneration plant operations Consolidation and capping of soils impacted by the historic Jones and Pardee smelter in Tanners Flat Common Pollutants at Ski Areas Sediment from Construction Projects Bare Soil + Rain = Erosion Sediment Dirty Water Common Pollutants at Ski Areas Sediment from Construction Projects BMP’s Runoff control ditches and basins Bare slope mulches Sediment trapping fences Common Pollutants at Ski Areas Cement and Concrete The BMP is to provide a safe location at every project for cement mixer washout and containment of pollution End of Part I Questions? Questions? II. Construction Planning and Design Techniques for Protecting Soil and Water Minimize the amount of ground disturbance Project timing and phasing Use temporary stream crossings and roads for construction access Minimizing Ground Disturbance Build ski runs with low impact methods. Minimal ground disturbance means doing: This Not this minimizing ground disturbance, cont. Grind stumps in place, rather than digging them out Shatter/scatter large rocks, rather than excavate and bury Stump grinding Rock breaking minimizing ground disturbance, cont. Chip/shred smaller vegetation in place Selective tree removal by low ground pressure equipment Hydroaxe Chipper Imperial Walker Harvester minimizing ground disturbance, cont. Why build a road when you Why disturb a new area when can use a helicopter? you can reuse an old one? Project Timing and Phasing Scale the project to the short mountain construction season. When fall comes you want to be doing: This Not this Project Timing and Phasing Don’t do major projects in the same watershed at the same time Examples Snowbird Gad Valley Alta Collins Gulch Halfpipe in 2004 Collins chair and parking lot in 2004 Gad Valley lot and day lodge in 2005 Watson shelter in 2005 Objective: Allow for vegetation recovery in one area before disturbing more soil and vegetation in a nearby area. Project Timing and Phasing, results: Alta Collins Base and Watson Shelter Collins Base Reveg 2005 Watson Shelter BMPs 2005 Project Timing and Phasing, results: Snowbird Halfpipe and Gad Valley Lot Halfpipe Reveg 2005 Gad Valley Lot BMPs 2005 Temporary Stream Crossings Minimize channel disturbance and reclamation costs. Use temporary bridges or I-beams instead of culverts. Temporary Roads and Trails If you must have road access, remove it when done by pulling fill slopes and restoring the original ground contour and vegetation End of Part II Questions? III. Overview: Protecting Soil and Water Quality Bare soil is extremely vulnerable to erosion. To preserve topsoil and protect streams from sediment, begin by protecting bare slopes from excessive runoff and erosion. Cross Slope Water bars Slope Drain Pipes/Mulches Protecting Water Quality cont. When bare slopes are close to streams, intercept runoff and filter sediment out. Straw Bale Check dams Sediment Fencing Protecting Water Quality cont. Large rainstorms can generate sediment that will overwhelm waterbars and silt fencing. In this case, runoff must detained or diverted to treatment facilities. Gad Valley lot rock Alta lower lot detention sediment filter strip basin IV. Temporary and Permanent BMPs to Prevent Sediment Delivery to Streams Designed to contain sediment from normal snowmelt and 5 to 10 year storm events Designed to control slope erosion until permanent vegetation is reestablished ( 1 to 3 years) Are more effective when used in combination with other temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent practices Require constant maintenance to maintain effectiveness Water Bars That Work Waterbars should have a slight curve to prevent low spots. They will self clean if begun at 1 to 3% slope, and finished at 5 to 7% slope. Building a Better Silt Fence Sediment fences should be installed in pre dug trenches, with the bottom flap pointing upslope, backfilled and compacted to prevent undercutting. Better Silt Fences (cont.) To prevent collapse, snow proof fences by adding wire or plastic cable tie wrapping. Where high velocities are expected, sediment fence can be strengthened with a row of securely staked straw bales. Putting Buffer Strips to Work Floodplains and riparian zones are natural sediment filters. Use them to de-silt runoff from construction sites. Parking Areas Paving parking lots is the best way to reduce sediment in the canyons. All ski area lots in BCC and LCC are now paved. Utility Trenches Pipeline trenches can quickly turn into stream channels if not protected from rainstorm runoff Utility Trenches (cont.) Wherever a trench cuts through any sort of channel, dry or wet, a temporary crossing pipe must be installed End of Part IV End of Part V Questions? V. Temporary and Permanent BMPs to Prevent Slope Erosion Designed to protect and enhance the lands ability to grow vegetation Designed to control slope erosion until permanent vegetation is reestablished ( 1 to 3 years) Enhance seeding success when using slower than normal to establish native seed mixes Require little maintenance beyond first growing season follow up fertilizer application Soil Conservation Preserving the Land’s Ability to Grow Vegetation reapply salvaged and conserved topsoil stockpile topsoil at the top of steep slopes for ease of reapplication avoid traversing stockpiles with heavy equipment roughen final reclaimed surface with bulldozer tracks Good Revegetation Needs Good Soil Examples of Regrowth on: Good native topsoil Imported topsoil Poor subsoils Topsoil replacement should be monitored for quality and thickness Natural Revegetation – Its Free! Run clearing and shaping with track-hoe excavators reduces erosion, preserves live roots, and promotes quicker revegetation Revegetation – sometimes you have to do it yourself choose native grass and forb species apply seed in late autumn at 50 to 200 seeds/ square foot enhance germination by “tracking in” apply phosphate fertilizer in the spring or mix in during initial seeding cover freshly seeded areas with a mulch Straw Mulch Covers & Erosion Blankets Enhancing the Land’s Ability to Grow Vegetation Straw Mulch apply straw mulch at a loose thickness of 4 to 6 inches track straw into the soil so it stands upright secure straw mulch with netting or chemical tackifiers Straw Mulch Covers & Erosion Blankets Cont. Erosion Blankets staple blanket into place ensure good soil contact do not stretch increase staple density and depth in high wind areas combine with silt fencing for additional protection next to water sources Summary: There are no right or wrong ways, only ways that work Ski Area BMPs are basic, proven techniques that can be adapted to mountain construction projects. They are: Simple Implementable Flexible Effective Where Can I Get SKI BMPs? Hardcopies and Compact Disc Acrobat Reader, 24 MB, print version on CD Hardcopies are now out of print and no longer available Web version (screen), 2 MB, downloadable from : www.fs.fed.us/r4/wcnf/publications/index The End End of Part IV Questions? Questions?
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