South Carolina Forestry Commission
Best Management Practices

Streamside Management Zones

Primary SMZ for Perennial and Intermittent Streams
Secondary SMZ for Perennial and Intermittent Streams
Ephemeral Streams
Trout Waters

An effort has been made to italicize technical words or phrases and clearly define them in the glossary.

Land adjacent to perennial, intermittent, and ephemeral streams and ponds or lakes requires special attention during forestry operations. These Streamside Management Zones (SMZs) are critical areas where NPS pollutants can enter the aquatic system .

Identifying the type of stream is important in prescribing the level of streamside protection. Usually a landowner or manager will be most familiar with a stream's flow characteristics and can make the determination. However, in some situations the landowner or manager may be uncertain or have little knowledge of a stream's flow characteristics. For example, braided streams with multiple interconnected channels can be difficult to identify. In these situations a licensed forester or other qualified professional should be consulted.

The SMZ is divided into two parts: the primary and the secondary. The primary SMZ is 40 feet wide on each side of the stream, except for designated trout waters with slopes greater than 5% where the primary SMZ is 80 feet. The width of the secondary SMZ depends on the average percent slope perpendicular to the stream. Minimum required widths of secondary SMZs under various conditions are listed in Figure 2.

Forest management activities are restricted within both the primary and secondary SMZs. These restrictions are listed below.

Perennial and Intermittent Streams



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Perennial and Intermittent Streams



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Stream Management Guidelines
Percent Slope Perpendicular to StreamWidth of SMZ on each side (feet)
Less than 5%40Trout
5% - 20%408040
21% - 40%408080
Greater than 40%4080120

Figure 2. Recommended primary and secondary Streamside Management Zone (SMZ) widths for perennial and intermittent streams.

Ephemeral Streams

Ephemeral streams generally flow in the upper reaches of a watershed following precipitation. Although well-defined channels may be present in unique situations, ephemeral streams (commonly referred to as drains) rarely carry enough runoff to displace soil, but they may displace the litter on top of the soil. They do flow directly into intermittent and perennial streams. Therefore, the forest floor in ephemeral areas should be protected so that sediment can be filtered out before runoff enters the watercourse. Handle and store toxic and hazardous material such as fuel, lubricants, and solvents outside the ephemeral area.


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Trout Waters

Trout require cool, clear streams. They, and the aquatic insects they feed on, are especially sensitive to increased sedimentation. Since South Carolina is near the southern limit of the trout's range, water temperature is also a critical factor. It is therefore important to take special precautions to minimize sedimentation and to maintain a shade cover to prevent excessive warming of the water.

Additional BMPs

Trout Waters in South Carolina

Water Body County Description
Cox Camp Creek Greenville The entire creek tributary to the Middle Saluda River
East Fork Chattooga River Oconee That portion of the river from its confluence with Indian Camp Branch to the Chattooga River
Emory Creek Pickens The creek from the northern boundary of Table Rock Resort property to its confluence with the Oolenoy River
Lake Jocassee Oconee The entire lake
Matthews Creek Greenville From the end of State land in the Mountain Bridge Area to its confluence with the South Saluda River
Saluda River (main stem) Lexington/Richland That portion from the Lake Murray Dam to the confluence with the Broad River
Savannah River Abbeville From Lake Hartwell Dam to the head waters of Lake Russell
Swaford Creek Oconee The entire creek tributary to East Fork Chattooga River
Whetstone Creek Oconee The entire creek tributary to the Chattooga River
Willis Creek Pickens The creek from the northern boundary of Table Rock Resort property to its confluence with the Oolenoy River

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