By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service
Q: I really want to comply with Best Management Practices (BMPs) on my harvesting operations, but it is not always easy dealing with landowners. I have a hard time explaining the benefits of following the recommended guidelines. What advice would you give me to tell my clients to convince them of the importance of using BMPs?
A: This is a tough problem that many loggers and contractors are faced with every day. Implementing BMPs is not only time consuming, but can also be costly. However, after looking at the advantages they provide, using BMPs becomes more appealing.
The ultimate goal of BMPs is to provide us with clean water. There is a limited amount of fresh water available for human consumption. This supply is constantly declining due to our explosive population growth. We cannot afford to do anything that will further reduce our water source. Polluted water is very expensive to treat, causing our water bills to rise.
In Texas, we are operating under a voluntary BMP system. This means that there are no laws mandating that we follow the recommended guidelines. If we choose not to adhere to these principles, then we might enter into a regulatory system. This type of situation would further infringe upon private property rights, be more costly, and less efficient.
Erosion control is also another important function of BMPs. Erosion can be very damaging to the productivity of the site as well as the environment. This process removes valuable soil that is necessary to grow quality timber. At the same time site productivity is decreasing, there is also an increased risk of sedimentation into our streams.
Wildlife can also benefit from implementing BMPs. Streamside Management Zones (SMZs) can provide habitat for many species, including deer, birds, and squirrels. They also function as travel corridors. Water temperatures in streams are kept inside a constant range due to the shade provided by the SMZ, maintaining aquatic populations of fish, amphibians, and insects.
The Texas Reforestation and Conservation Act of 1999 (SB 977) allows for a financial incentive to using BMPs. This legislation gives forest landowners property tax relief in special qualified zones, such as SMZs and reforested acres. Under this bill, a landowner would receive a 50% reduction in their appraised value for these restricted use timberland zones.
The reasons listed above are good selling points to make a case for installing BMPs on your property. The Texas Forest Service has several brochures on their webpage that are very educational and available for you to use. They are located at the following address: http://txforestservice.tamu.edu/water. If you would prefer for me to talk to the landowner directly or have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.
* This article was published in the July 2001 issue of the Texas Logger