Large Woody Material: Science, Policy, and Best Management Practices for Florida Streams
Florida Scientist 75.3 (2012)
21 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2012
Anthropogenic activities have altered streams and rivers throughout Florida. Silvicultural practices, deadhead logging, road and bridge maintenance, de-snagging for navigation and flood control, and the clearing of riparian buffers for development have all impacted Florida’s streams and rivers through the loss of ecologically important woody material from stream banks and channels. Repercussions from these impacts include changes to sedimentation patterns and stream morphology, erosion of banks and bars, and the consequent loss of habitat structure and diversity. The loss of large woody material (LWM) presents far-reaching impacts on the hydrology, ecology, and water quality of southeastern coastal plain streams, however federal and state law regulating the removal and/or reintroduction of LWM remains murky. Current decision-making does not adequately account for LWM’s importance to Florida streams, and in many cases, the law appears to treat the removal of LWM more favorably than it does its reintroduction. We conclude that use of Best Management Practices associated with current statutory exemptions and categorical permits, as well as stakeholder education, offers the greatest promise of reducing the adverse impacts historic loss of LWM has had on coastal plain streams in Florida. Specific challenges include working with regionally appropriate techniques, balancing safety and accessibility with natural processes, and allowing for uncertainties.
Keywords: Woody material, woody debris, coastal plain, best management practices, rivers
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