Forestry Best Management Practices Suggest Consideration of Vernal Pools
Currently, Michigan Forestry Best Management Practices for Soil and Water Quality acknowledge vernal pools as significant and valuable features in forests by providing critical habitat and resources to species that depend on them for their complete (i.e. fairy shrimp and fingernail clams) or for a part (i.e. salamanders and frogs) of their life cycles.
The best management practices advise against disturbance to vernal pool depressions, suggest a 100 m buffer for deep ruts, consider soil conditions. and offer canopy closure restrictions. On page 14, the following is stated,
"Some animals will live their entire life cycle in a vernal pool. Fairy shrimp and clam shrimp are suited to a watery environment that varies widely in temperature and dries up annually. They produce thick shelled eggs that survive in the dried-up pool until the next spring’s thaw when they hatch in the newly hydrated pool. Therefore, when harvesting occurs, there should be no disturbance to the vernal pool depression. All equipment, trees and tops should be kept out of this area. Within 100 feet of the pool, it is especially important to avoid deep ruts which can interfere with the movement of salamanders to and from the pools. Equipment should generally only be used when the soil is in a dry or frozen condition to keep rutting to a minimum in this area. Timber harvesting can occur in the area, but the canopy closure within 100 feet of the pool should not be reduced to less than 70% to minimize the drying effects of sun and wind. The presence of vernal pools may not be readily apparent for sales that are prepared during heavy snow conditions, but may be inferred by landscape position, canopy gap, and a shift to tree species adapted to wetter habitat conditions around the edge of a pool. The presence of a vernal pool may also not be encountered and thereby known during timber sale preparation. In these circumstances, the above guidance should be applied when and where they are observed to occur during spring through autumn harvesting operations."
Additionally, new or old harvest landings should not be placed in areas with vernal pools (page 44).
Vernal pools are also acknowledged as critical riparian areas that should be considered in the placement of skid trails (page 44).
"A skid trail is a single lane trail used for the skidding or forwarding of timber products from the stump to a landing. After the location of log landings are established and road layout is complete, the skid trail network is then laid out. The major considerations for skid trail placement are to minimize: damage to residual trees, erosion, sedimentation, and rutting. For some forest conditions such as very steep slopes (over 40%), unstable soil conditions and critical riparian areas (e.g. areas with vernal pools, unique natural communities such as dune and swale complexes), use timber harvesting techniques and equipment that minimize skidding throughout the stand (Figures 22-27)."