Thursday, June 1, 2000

June BMP Q&A

By: Jake Donellan, BMP Forester (Ret.), Texas Forest Service
Q: I heard that the Texas Forest Service inspects sites for BMP compliance. How does a site get selected and what is done with the information after it is collected? I do a good job as often as I can, although I admit I may have let one slide.

A: That is an excellent question that I get asked quite often. The Texas Forest Service (TFS) regularly inspects, with landowner permission, recently harvested tracts for voluntary compliance with BMPs. The TFS looks at about 150 tracts every two years. These sites are selected in a number of different ways. A common way a site can be selected is during “Bug Flights.” These flights are flown over East Texas to locate bug infestations. TFS employees identify sites that they see from the air that look like they have been recently harvested. The 150 sites that are selected are distributed proportionally into 3 landowner categories: Non-Industrial Private Forest (NIPF) landowners, Industry, and Government. Relatively more NIPF site inspections are conducted in northeast Texas where there is a larger percentage of NIPF landowners. Similarly, more industry sites are inspected in southeast Texas where they are more prevalent. This provides a sound foundation for the data presented in each of the monitoring reports.

After being selected and receiving landowner permission, then the site is inspected. I fill out a report based on how well BMPs were used and implemented over the entire site. I send a copy of my report to the landowner, the logger (if known), the forester (if applicable), and I keep a copy myself. The purpose of the inspection is purely educational. I may make recommendations about what might have been done differently. Once all 150 sites have been inspected, the data from the inspections is used to compile a monitoring report. This report, which includes a composite summary of the findings but no individual names or other specific tract information, is then sent to the EPA and a wide range of other interested folks. We have been doing a great job so far and hope to continue using BMPs on a voluntary basis.

Remember that the practices are currently voluntary. You may have heard recently about the EPA proposed change of silvicultural practices from a non-point source of pollution to a point source of pollution. If that occurs, then the EPA could then impose regulations that could incur penalties for poor implementation of BMPs. According to an article in the May 2000 issue of The Forestry Source, a news journal produced by the Society of American Foresters, the EPA is expected to release it proposed final rule by June 30th on its proposal to categorize silvicultural activities as point sources of pollution. A period of public comment, which is typically 60 to 90 days, would follow, with a final rule expected by the end of the summer. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me.

* This article was published in the June 2000 issue of the Texas Logger

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