Effects of riparian forest harvest on instream habitat and fish and invertebrate communities

This project examines the effectiveness of guidelines to protect forested riparian areas at a site level. Guidelines developed in Minnesota in 1998 recommend timber harvest in riparian areas. This project is part of a larger effort with the US Forest Service and the Natural Resources Research Institute. Our 14-member team is evaluating effects of riparian forest harvest on water quality, fish, invertebrates, and stream morphology across three riparian harvest treatments (none, low, and imtermediate); totally unharvested (riparian and upland) control sites and riparian sites with no harvest. Our time frame is one year of pre-harvest (2003) and three years of post-harvest (2004-2006). We have found significant variation between years in habitat scores and macroinvertebrate samples indicate differences within and between sites in species composition and abundance. Continued monitoring will be required before we can fully assess the effects of riparian harvest. This study will serve as the basis for longer term assessment of the effects of riparian harvest and provide information about the ecology of forest streams and will be used directly by the Minnesota Forest Resources Council to develop logging policy in Minnesota.