Technical Report

Economics of Soil Disturbance

Economic implications of soil disturbance are discussed in four categories: planning and layout,selection of harvesting systems and equipment, long-term site productivity loss, and rehabilitation treatments. Preventive measures are more effective in minimizing impacts on soils than rehabilitation treatments because of the remedial expenses, loss of productivity until mitigation occurs, and the possibility that original soil conditions may not be restored. Alternative harvesting practices that are designed to minimize impacts on soils, such as use of designated skid trails and wide trail-spacing, increase overall harvesting costs. Sites with high risk for soil disturbance may require use of expensive wood extraction methods (e.g., skyline yarding), as opposed to lower cost options (e.g. ground skidding). Tillage treatments in severely compacted areas appear to be cost effective if properly implemented. An accurate estimation of economic consequences from long-term site productivity losses is difficult, although there is a general consensus that soil disturbance at some locations can reduce tree growth.