Riparian Management Areas and Protection Measures for Significant Wetlands
(1)(a) The purpose of these rules is to protect the functions and values of significant wetlands, including wetlands larger than eight acres, estuaries, bogs and important springs in eastern Oregon on forestlands.
Significant wetlands on forestlands provide a wide range of functions and values, including those related to water quality, hydrologic function, fish and other aquatic organisms, and wildlife.
Estuaries are unique systems because they form transitions between terrestrial, marine, and freshwater environments. Because of this link, estuarine systems are among the most biologically productive in the world. Estuaries support many resident species. Estuaries also provide food, spawning area, and shelter for numerous other species at critical points in their life cycles. Removal of shoreline trees reduces the overall productivity of the estuary by reducing leaf and litter fall, thus depriving the estuary of substrate, and by removing feeding and resting habitat for birds and small mammals.
Bog communities are a result of specific hydrologic, soil, and nutrient conditions. Bogs are usually saturated, low in nutrients, and highly acidic. Changes in runoff, sediment loading, and nutrient loading can alter the plant community composition. The peat soils have evolved over time. Compaction damages plant communities and may encourage the invasion of exotic species. Harvesting may disrupt shade tolerant vegetation, alter plant community characteristics, and hasten succession. Compaction, saturated conditions, and poor nutrient status make reforestation difficult.
In arid parts of eastern Oregon, springs provide a critical source of water. These important springs have established wetland vegetation, flow year round in most years, and are used by a concentration of diverse animal species. By reason of sparse occurrence, important springs have a major influence on the distribution and abundance of upland species. Important springs shall be identified by the State Forester.(2)(a) The goals of significant wetland protection are to maintain the functions and values of significant wetlands on forestlands over time, and to ensure that forest practices do not lead to resource site destruction or reduced productivity, while at the same time ensuring the continuous growth and harvest of forest tree species. To accomplish these goals, the rules focus on the protection of soil, hydrologic functions, and specified levels of vegetation.
The intent of the rules is to minimize soil disturbance and to minimize disturbance to the natural drainage patterns of the significant wetland.
Vegetation retention (including understory vegetation, snags, downed wood, and live trees) is needed to prevent erosion and sedimentation into the significant wetland, minimize soil disturbance and hydrologic changes, and to maintain components of the vegetation structure to provide for other benefits, particularly fish and wildlife values.