IN.gov - Skip Navigation

Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Forestry > Forestry BMP's > Riparian Management Zones Riparian Management Zones

RMZ's are natural buffer areas between logging and forestry activities and waterways. 

An RMZ begins at the watercourse bank or sinkhole opening and extends inland. Trees may be harvested within the RMZ. The goal is to maintain a stable forest floor to filter sediment and other pollutants before runoff enters the main watercourse.

General Guidelines:

  • Make RMZ's as wide as practical. See Table 4 for Recommended RMZ Widths based on watershed characteristics.
  • When harvesting trees in the RMZ, minimize disturbance of the forest floor, exposure of mineral soil and degradation of stream banks, and leave adequate tree stocking to shade the stream.
  • Locate roads and skid trails outside RMZ's except where necessary for stream crossings.
  • Minimize mechanical disturbance to the forest floor by using directional felling away from the watercourse and winching to skid trails outside an RMZ when necessary.
  • Do not pile slash, fill or place debris within these areas.
  • Remove felled tops and logging debris from the channels of perennial and large intermittent streams.
  • Place felled tops and debris a sufficient distance away from the water course to prevent flood impediments.
  • Protect the forest floor to allow sediment to be filtered out before reaching the watercourse.
  • Rule of thumb - expose no more than 10% bare, mineral soil, well distributed throughout the RMZ.
  • Avoid locating equipment and material storage sites, maintenance sites and log landings within th RMZ.
  • Avoid operating wheeled or tracked equipment in the RMZ and watercourses except on designated roads and stream crossings.
  • Don't locate roads or skid trails on pond dams.
  • Divert forest road and skid trail runoff onto stable areas before it enters the RMZ.
  • Stabilize all roads, skid trails, cuts and fills in the RMZ as soon as practicable after construction and use.
  • Avoid broadcast spray of pesticides or fertilizers within the RMZ.
  • Cut few, if any, trees within 15 feet of permanent watercourses.
  • Retain at least 50% well-distributed canopy cover in the primary RMZ on perennial water courses.

NOTE: The Indiana Flood Control Act (IC 14-28-1) applies to all streams with a watershed greater than one square mile (640 acres) and prohibits the placement of tree tops in stream channels and their floodways which may unduly restrict its flood carrying capacity. Additional federal, state, and local regulations may also apply (e.g. Federal Emergency Management Agency flood areas). See Known Regulations page.

If operating in a wetland, follow the additional Federal Wetland Guidelines.

Ephemeral Streams

Ephemeral streams generally occur in the upper reaches of a watershed and flow after heavy rains, snow melt, or when soils are saturated.

General Guidelines:

  • Minimize soil disturbance, crossings and channel blockages.
  • Remove channel blockages and stabilize erosive areas after use.
  • Avoid broadcast applications of pesticides and fertilizers, if water is present.
  • Avoid diverting runoff from skid trails and forest roads into ephemeral stream channels.