Timber Salvage

Central Arkansas Water (CAW) recently initiated forestry management activities on CAW-owned property in the vicinity of Lake Vista Drive in the Lake Maumelle Watershed.  The activities are driven by the need to salvage damaged and downed timber as a result of the April 27 tornado in this area.

As part of our commitment to keep nearby residents informed of the progress of the forest management activities, we have developed the following factsheets for the two project sites.  We will also update this page with the project status every two weeks during the term of the project.  Finally, there are FAQs included on the bottom of this page regarding this project.

For more information:  Please contact Raven Lawson, Watershed Protection Manager, directly at 501.223.1857or at Raven.Lawson@carkw.com.

Safety Issues:  Due to safety concerns, we respectfully ask that nearby residents and landowners do not enter the property when heavy equipment is present.

Fact Sheets:

Project Status 2/2/2015:  CAW recently hired Davis Dubose Knight Forestry (DDK Forestry) as our primary forestry consultant.  One of the first recommendations from DDK Forestry was to prepare and reforest the CAW property near Lake Vista Road that was damaged by the April 27, 2014, tornado.

To prepare the site for reforestation, DDK Forestry will remove timber slash and logging debris on site through controlled burning over the next several days.  The timing of these activities was carefully selected based on recent rainfall amounts as well as the forecasted wind direction in order to minimize the amount of smoke created as part of the controlled burn.  Nevertheless, CAW is actively notifying nearby residents that smoke is expected in the area over the next several days.

This burning activity will confined to small-scale debris piles on the site.  Public safety is a primary consideration of CAW and our contractors and will complete the burn with trained personnel and equipment necessary to manage and condense the piles and create small fire breaks to prevent fire from spreading.

CAW and DDK Forestry will plant the site once the slash and debris piles are removed and residents will therefore see  increased activity in the area during this time. CAW and DDK Forestry will use a mixture of native seedlings to replant the site, including shortleaf pine and oak species.

Project Status 10/9/2014: The timber salvage activities are complete.  However, rain prevented removal of marketable timber on approximately 10 acres (see map).  As a result of the loss of marketable timber on the remaining 10 acres, the remainder of the project will be completed as a debris removal project. We will complete the debris removal on the final 10 acres as soon as weather permits.

Other activities accomplished since the last update include:

  •  Most of the Ouachita Trail that was affected has been cleared, only a small portion remains to be cleared (see the item below about an October 15 workday on the trail).
  • Roads have been re-graded to improve drainage.
  • Wing ditches have been installed to reduce road erosion and further improve drainage.
  • Silt fencing continues to be maintained and improved in order to contain any eroded soil and protect water quality.
  • The Friends of the Ouachita Trail performed maintenance and cleanup activities on the Ouachita National Hiking Trail off of Lake Vista Drive on Wednesday, October 15, 2014.

In addition, the following activities will occur as weather permits:

  • The contractor will begin seeding landing areas and road beds in the next few weeks, weather permitting.
  • The contractor will install access controls (wing fence and gate) in the next few weeks on the road developed as part of the project, weather permitting.
  • CAW’s consulting forester is preparing a reforestation plan for the entire affected area and will coordinate the debris removal on the remaining 10 acres.
  • A water quality monitoring plan for the site continues to be developed.

Project Status 8/25/14: 

  • The north shore site has not had active timber removal since, July 30, 2014. However, CAW staff continue regularly monitor the north shore project site.
  • The silt fencing contractor has been on site at the north shore project to continue maintaining the functionality of the silt fence.
  • A small site on the northern side of the north shore project area still has downed timber, including a section of the Ouachita trail. We are currently exploring ways to remove the timber from this site, including the dangerous trees in order to reopen the Ouachita trail as soon as possible.
  • Crews will be on site for the north shore project this week to provide quotes for site closure activities including fencing and seeding.
  • Negotiations are under way to develop a site specific water quality monitoring plan that will monitor the site until the tornado scar has healed.

Project Status 7/10/14 The project was able to take advantage of favorable weather and site conditions in early July and continues to progress.  As part of the project and water quality protection efforts, the following activities have occurred:

  • Over 2,554 tons of pulpwood and sawlogs have been salvaged from the site
  • 2,200 linear feet of silt-fencing have been installed
  • CAW staff and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Staff have conducted over 70 site inspections
  • Arkansas Forestry Commission visited the site and have and will continue to provide guidance for site improvement
  • CAW began work with foresters to complete a reforestation plan for the area directly damaged by the tornado.

Over the next few weeks, additional water quality management activities and structures will be installed on the site.  These include road crowns on the logging roads as well as water bars, wing ditches, and seeding of the logging roads.

Project Status 6/12/14:  Currently, the project has been delayed due to recent rains.  However the logging roads are 80% completed and harvesting of damage trees has begun.  AGFC estimates that there are 200 loads of downed timber to be salvaged.  Due to the rains, only 9 loads have been removed from the site; however the logging contractor has been actively staging timber. Once site conditions dry and the logging contractor is able to access the site, we estimate that it will take 3-4 weeks to complete the removal of downed timber.  Ecological thinning has not yet begun.  It will occur throughout 2014 and will take place under more ideal weather and site conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this project necessary?

On April 27, 2014 a “high end” EF-4 tornado struck central Arkansas, traveling from west of Ferndale to El Paso.  The tornado was on the ground for 41.3 miles and lasted over an hour.  The tornado was at maximum strength near downtown Vilonia.  Winds for the tornado were estimated at 166-200 miles per hour.

As the tornado moved through the Lake Maumelle watershed, approximately 259 acres of forestland on the south and north shores of Lake Maumelle were extensively damaged. The damage includes downed trees, leaning trees, and sheared tree tops and limbs.

The ideal time to harvest damaged timber is immediately after the damage has occurred because the timber has less time to decay or become damaged by insects. Blown over timber will begin to decay when the root system has been damaged or separated from the tree; decay occurs quickly in hot, humid conditions.  In addition, the longer the timber has to decay, the greater the risk of wildfire or pine beetle or other insect infestation. Decayed or bug-damaged timber is worth significantly less than timber salvaged immediately following damage. In addition, significant amounts of decayed timber can increase water quality degradation in water supplies.  Some standing trees may need to be harvested to allow the logger access to the damaged timber.

If the timber can be salvaged while marketable, it can help offset the cost of a salvage project. Because of potential pine beetle damage, total organic carbon input and increased fire danger once the trees begin to decay, CAW has entered into a “salvage” harvest to mitigate these impacts.  In cooperation with foresters from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, CAW contracted quickly with two logging contractors to remove downed timber and damaged trees and to clear the Ouachita Trail.

What is the Risk of Beetle Infestation?

Pine forests like those damaged by the April 27 tornado are more likely to suffer from Pine Beetle infestations than others. The Pine Beetle most commonly infests dense stands of loblolly or shortleaf pine with a history of little to no management or thinning.

In addition, damaged timber stands are particularly susceptible to pine beetle infestation.  Once beetles infest damaged timber, they can easily spread to nearby healthy trees, causing damage to a significant area of forest.  Once infested by pine beetles, the best control is to quickly remove the infested timber.  These types of infestations are often seen after major disturbances such as tornadoes and severe storms.

Why is There an Increased Wildfire Risk?

Wildfire is a serious concern for storm-damaged forests because of the large amount of downed wood that can serve as fuel for wildfires.  Heavy fuel loads can be responsible for intense fires that move into adjacent forests and cause serious damage to standing timber or buildings. Installation of firebreaks, road clearing, thinning of timber, and taking extra precautions to minimize wildfire risk in storm-damaged and adjacent forests are recommended by forestry professionals to reduce the risk of wildfire in and around storm-damaged areas.

What Risks are there to Water Quality Degradation?

Failure to remove downed timber will increase the amount of Total Organic Carbon (TOC) input into Lake Maumelle.  TOC in raw water supplies can lead to the formation of Disinfection By Products (DBPs), a federally-regulated contaminant in drinking water that Central Arkansas Water and other water utilities are required to control.  The best control for DBP formation is to limit the input of TOC to raw water sources such as Lake Maumelle.

How Will This Project Reduce Future Activity on Forest Management Units?

In early 2014, Central Arkansas Water completed a forest management plan in partnership with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission for the 10,000 acres that CAW owns around Lake Maumelle.  The plan divides CAW’s 10,000 acres into individual management units.  The size and boundaries of the management units were determined by forest type, topography, access limitations, adjacent land uses, and other conditions recommended by forestry professionals.  The plan also identified timelines for completing ecological thinning and controlled burns on of each of the management units in order to improve forest health and water quality.

The April 27 tornado damaged portions of two management units around Lake Maumelle, one on the north shore and one on the south shore.  Best forestry practices are to manage the entire unit rather than only a portion of a forestry management unit.   As a result, CAW was forced to accelerate the timeline for activities on these units, specifically ecological thinning.  Completing ecological thinning on these management units in combination with the timber salvage will reduce the need to complete additional timber removal in the near future on these units, resulting in only one inconvenience to nearby landowners rather than two in a short timeframe.  In addition, the activities will also enhance CAW’s fire management and emergency management capabilities with the construction of the logging road.

How Will this Project be Conducted?

The removal of timber requires the installation of a logging road on CAW property.  CAW is working with our logging contractor, and state agencies to utilize best management practices to minimize sediment runoff from the road.  Arkansas Forestry Commission’s best management practices for protecting water quality will be utilized to minimize sediment runoff from salvage and ecological-thinning activities.  These practices include water bars, wing ditches, and silt fencing between the road and the lake.

Once the salvage and ecological thinning are completed, the logging road will be reseeded and vegetation will be re-established.  Additionally, the access road will be gated and locked when the project has been completed.  The logging road will serve as a fire break and will provide access for future forestry management efforts and emergency access needs in the area.