The major challenges associated with mechanical site preparation involve soil erosion and potential sedimentation from runoff. In order to maintain the silvicultural exemption, the following six federal requirements must be followed when conducting mechanical site preparation for pine plantation establishment (EPA/Corps memorandum to field, 11/28/95):
- Position shear blades or rakes at or near the soil surface and windrow, pile, and otherwise move logs and logging debris by methods that minimize dragging or pushing through the soil to minimize soil disturbance associated with shearing, raking and moving trees, stumps, brush, and other unwanted vegetation.
- Conduct activities in such a manner as to avoid excessive soil compaction and maintain soil tilth.
- Arrange windrows in such a manner as to limit erosion, overland flow, and runoff.
- Prevent disposal or storage of logs or logging debris in streamside management zones – defined areas adjacent to streams, lakes, and other water bodies – to protect water quality.
- Maintain the natural contour of the site and ensure that activities do not immediately or gradually convert the wetland to a non-wetland.
- Conduct activities with appropriate water management mechanisms to minimize off-site water quality impacts.