Question from a landowner in Putnam County, NY: We are doing a large cut of aging or damaged trees, mostly deciduous since we have very few conifers. Normally we chip the cut wood into the woods, but we also store chips in a large pile close to the lake, for various uses. Is there any potential negative impact from the deteriorating pile on our lake? The stockpile location has never flooded. One delightful plus of the pile is that we've annually seen snapping turtles lay their eggs in it!
Our Answer: There is no exact formal for this, but I’d recommend keeping the pile at least 50 feet (go with 100 if you can) from any water, and to also spread it out along the contour if possible i.e. instead of one huge circular pile, try to elongate it parallel to whatever water body is nearby, or break it up into smaller piles. This will help reduce the pollutant concentrations.
It sounds like the project is well underway, but will regardless share with you that leaving some of the branches throughout the property can benefit wildlife, soil health, and help out during times of drought. This
explains this concept a bit. You of course don’t want the place to look like a mess (or even a hazard), but it’s just something to consider.
#2 Dissolved oxygen is critical for survival of most aquatic life. And the amount of dissolved oxygen available for organisms can be greatly reduced if the wood chips were to enter your lake. The link below is a concise explanation of this from the USGS.