By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service
Q: I just received a copy of a Texas BMP Monitoring Checklist in the mail the other day from the Texas Forest Service regarding one of my logging operations. Would you give me an overview of this program, the number of inspections you have completed so far, and how well the forestry community is doing in following the recommended BMP guidelines?
A: Sure! The Texas BMP compliance monitoring program is currently in the fifth round. Evaluations are conducted throughout East Texas not only to determine if BMPs are being followed, but also to see if they are functioning properly. The data that is collected is compiled into a formal report and analyzed. This information is extremely important because it shows how well voluntary efforts are protecting water quality.
The results that are gathered are used primarily for educational purposes only. In the event that a landowner is found to be violating forestry best management practices, recommendations will be made on how to correct the possible problems. No citation or fine will be issued.
This program requires the Texas Forest Service to monitor 150 sites every two years. Random selection of these sites is critical, and is achieved primarily through aerial detection of forestry operations. These sites may include any “normal” forestry activity (thinnings, clearcuts, site preparation, planting, etc.) and preferably have occurred within the last year.
The three major ownership groups that are targeted through these evaluations are public (mainly National Forests), industry (International Paper Company, Louisiana Pacific Corporation, and Temple Inland Forests), and private landowners. Before any BMP evaluation is conducted, permission must be granted by the landowner.
Ninety forestry sites have already been evaluated in this current round of BMP compliance monitoring. The breakdown of these sites show that 9 are under public ownership, 40 are owned by private landowners, and 41 have occurred on industry land.
Significant improvements have been made (so far) since the last round of monitoring achieved the highest ever BMP compliance (88.6%) in the program’s existence. Public ownership (97.9%) led the way last round, followed by industry (94.2%) and the private landowner (81.2%). An increase in all ownership groups, most notably the private landowner, has led to an early compliance rate in the low 90s.
What can you do to improve your BMP compliance? Statistical analysis shows that loggers that have attended the BMP training workshop score higher on the random evaluations. Familiarizing landowners that you come in contact with on the importance of protecting water quality is also another great way to do this. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.
* This article was published in the November 2001 issue of the Texas Logger