By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service
Q: I just met with a landowner in a pre harvest conference and found out that he had a forestry water quality management plan (FWQMP). I also heard a radio commercial discussing this topic the very same day. What exactly is a FWQMP? Will this effect the way I conduct my harvest operations?
A: First, I would like to commend you for having a pre-harvest conference with the landowner. This is an important part of the planning process and can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. In this meeting, you will know exactly what the landowner’s goals and objectives are for the operation, as well as find out important information on the tract that you will be working (streams, sensitive areas, property lines, area to be cut, road systems, etc). All parties are usually satisfied with the results of the harvest if one of these meetings is held.
The demands on Texas’ water supplies are constantly increasing due to our explosive population growth. We all need it to drink, cook, wash, and to enjoy recreational activities, so everyone is responsible for conserving and protecting water quality. Forest landowners now have another tool to assist them in this process.
A forestry water quality management plan is a management plan (a written document that outlines a course of action for a specified time period) that contains specific recommendations about using Best Management Practices (BMPs) to prevent erosion and protect water quality. The Texas Forest Service in cooperation with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the Natural Resource Conservation Service are promoting these plans to landowners.
These plans, introduced by the 73rd Texas legislature in Senate Bill 503, allow landowners to manage their land according to their own personal goals and stay in compliance with the state’s water quality objectives. This bill also amends the Water Code to grant certified forestry water quality management plans the same legal status as a Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission point source pollution permit. In order to receive this protection, WQMPs must be certified by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board. This is a simple process and at any time the landowner is able to drop out of the program.
As a logger, you have the responsibility to help a landowner carry out his plan when harvesting timber. This is important because WQMPs mention the necessity of following all state recommended BMPs during forestry activities. In doing this, you are ensuring that the landowner is meeting his objectives and protecting water quality at the same time. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.
* This article was published in the December 2001 issue of the Texas Logger