Sunday, December 1, 2002

December BMP Q&A

By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:   This month’s BMP article is a continuation of last month’s question. That question asked me to explain the “problem areas” in greater detail that were noted in the BMP Implementation Report.

A:   The report “Voluntary Implementation of Forestry Best Management Practices in East Texas, Round 5” noted two major deficiencies in the evaluation of 150 forestry sites from August 16, 2000 to April 23, 2002. The first area of deficiency was improper stream crossings on temporary roads. The second area of deficiency was the high amount of significant risks to water quality that were noted. This month, let’s concentrate on the second deficiency.

What exactly is a significant risk to water quality? The Southern Group of State Foresters Water Resources Committee defines it as “a situation or set of conditions that have resulted in or very likely will result in the measurable and significant degradation of water quality, and that can be remedied or otherwise mitigated.” This group developed a framework to provide south-wide guidance for monitoring BMP implementation.

Steep topography and highly erodible soils are key site conditions that are often associated with significant risks. Conducting forestry operations under these conditions without the proper implementation of certain BMPs may have a high potential to result in significant risk to water quality.

Overall, twenty-eight significant risks to water quality were noted in the fifth round of BMP implementation monitoring. All of these risks fell under private ownership (24 on non industrial private forest landowners and 4 on industry). The major areas of concern were stream crossings, streamside management zones, and to a lesser extent, roads and skid trails. Examples of forestry activities where significant risks were identified include not stabilizing or restoring stream crossings, not leaving a SMZ along intermittent streams, not removing logging debris from the stream channel, and not installing appropriate drainage structures on road systems.

Documenting the occurrence of significant risk is a very important part of the BMP site evaluations. This type of risk assessment lends much credibility and integrity to the BMP monitoring program by recognizing that high risk conditions can occur, and that prevention and/or restoration is a high priority to state forestry agencies. It also may show that the lack of BMPs may not necessarily equate to a water quality problem. Finally, this tool not only protects the environment, but may also protect the landowner and operator from what otherwise may result in enforcement proceedings or other personal liability.

It is extremely important that we improve upon the deficiencies that were noted in this report. These problems can have a definite impact on water quality, and will attract the attention of regulators. Continue to do the best job that you can and everything will take care of itself. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the December 2002 issue of the Texas Logger

Friday, November 1, 2002

November BMP Q&A

By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service
Q:   The other day, I read the executive summary of the BMP report that you have been mentioning in this article the past two months. I saw that there were two major deficiencies noted in the evaluations. Could you explain these “problem areas” in greater detail?

A:   Sure! The report “Voluntary Implementation of Forestry Best Management Practices in East Texas, Round 5” noted two major deficiencies in the evaluation of 150 forestry sites from August 16, 2000 to April 23, 2002. The first area of deficiency was improper stream crossings on temporary roads. The second area of deficiency was the high amount of significant risks to water quality that were noted. This month, let’s concentrate on the first deficiency.

Stream crossings are generally an area of concern because they have the potential to contribute a large amount of dirt to a stream. When these structures are not installed properly and without using BMPs, water quality may become impacted. The report primarily identified stream crossings on temporary roads, but crossings on permanent roads can cause similar problems.

These structures can be expensive to install and maintain, costing you both time and money. With proper planning, you might decide that crossing a stream may not be necessary. Aerial photographs, topographic maps, soil surveys, and on the ground field evaluations are excellent tools that can help you make these decisions. Going around the head of streams can also be a very effective and practical way to access the other side.

There are many situations when you have no other option but to install a crossing. The key is to minimize the amount of dirt that enters the stream. Dirt crossings should never be used. Logs or brush placed lengthwise in the stream channel can serve as good alternatives, as long as they are removed when the operation is completed. Drag line mats and “Arkansas bridges” also work effectively. If you decide to use a culvert, make sure it is properly sized and that you have the equipment to remove it and the fill dirt when the operation is finished.

Whenever you are putting in a crossing, find the straightest section of that stream and cross it at a right angle. This will help to minimize bank disturbance and reduce the amount of sloughing that occurs. It is also important to stabilize the approaches with grass, rip-rap, or other erosion control materials to ensure a stable roadbed approach and reduce the amount of dirt entering the stream.

Since the inception of the BMP monitoring program, stream crossings have always been a thorn in our side. We have made great strides over the past 10 years in installing these structures. This progress is best noted by the increase in BMP implementation ratings on stream crossings from Round 4 (67%) to Round 5 (85%). However, there is still plenty of room for improvement in these areas. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the November 2002 issue of the Texas Logger

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

BMP Informer - October 2002

October Issue of the BMP Informer Now Available

October BMP Q&A

By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:   Last month, you mentioned a report that the Texas Forest Service publishes regarding the results of randomly inspected forestry activities for BMP implementation. I was very pleased to see that the forestry community in East Texas had reached an all time high for the past round of monitoring. How does Texas compare to other states in BMP implementation monitoring rates?

A:   I knew someone would ask this question before too long! Does the old saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas” apply to forestry BMP implementation monitoring rates? This is somewhat difficult to answer due to the variations in the actual forestry BMPs and monitoring programs among the states, but I will give it a shot.

The manner in which forestry BMPs are administered generally fall into one of two categories: regulatory or non-regulatory. Although there is no significant difference in BMP implementation rates between the two approaches, it is easier to compare apples to apples. Texas is currently operating under the non-regulatory approach, so let’s look at other states that use this same method.

Non-regulatory BMP programs are widely found throughout the South, from South Carolina to Texas. However, the actual BMP recommendations can vary significantly among the Southern states. For example, the guidelines for SMZ width and residual density along intermittent streams may be completely different from state to state. It is important to recognize these differences when comparing BMP implementation rates.

Variations can also be found in the monitoring program (monitoring frequency, site selection, scoring methodology, risk assessment, etc.). To counteract this, a Regional BMP Implementation Monitoring Protocol has been developed and approved by the Southern Group of State Foresters. This protocol improved the integrity of BMP monitoring in the South by providing a statistically sound, objective, and technically defensible approach to measuring BMP implementation. The results are generally comparable among states.

As I mentioned in the last month’s article, the overall BMP implementation rate found for the fifth round of monitoring (2002) in Texas was 91.5%. BMP implementation rates for the state of Louisiana (2000) were also found to be in this range. Arkansas recently released the results of their latest survey (2001) and found overall BMP implementation to be 83%. Oklahoma should be completing their next survey in the near future and Mississippi is currently in the process of customizing a monitoring program that will follow the above mentioned protocol.

Texas is definitely at the top of the list in BMP implementation rates. In order for the saying, “everything is bigger in Texas” to remain true, the forestry community must continue its hard work and effort in protecting water quality through the implementation of BMPs. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the October 2002 issue of the Texas Logger

Sunday, September 1, 2002

September BMP Q&A

By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:   A few months ago, I received a copy of the Texas BMP Monitoring Checklist regarding one of my logging operations in the mail. I thought that I did a real good job following the Best Management Practices (BMPs) on this site and was glad to see that you felt the same way. In general, how are East Texas loggers doing in implementing forestry BMPs? Isn’t there some kind of report that the Texas Forest Service publishes documenting their findings?

A:   There sure is! The report you are talking about “Voluntary Implementation of Forestry Best Management Practices in East Texas” is currently at the printers and should be available in several weeks. An online version is posted on the TFS webpage at This information is extremely important because it shows how well voluntary efforts are protecting water quality.

The Texas Forest Service has published this report every two years, starting with the first round of BMP implementation monitoring in 1992. The current report, round 5, was compiled from the results of 150 site evaluations in which silvicultural activities were monitored between August 16, 2000 and April 23, 2002.

Random selection of potential sites is critical, and is primarily done through aerial detection of forestry operations. These sites may include any “normal” forestry activity (clearcuts, thinnings, site preparation, planting, etc.) and preferably have occurred within the last year. Before any BMP evaluation is conducted, permission must be granted by the landowner.

Overall BMP implementation for the monitored tracts was 91.5%, the highest rate ever in the history of the program. In general, implementation was higher on tracts under public or industrial ownership. The breakdown of the monitoring sites among ownership groups is as follows:
Public (10 sites) – 98.4%
Industry (66 sites) – 96.1%
NIPF (74 sites) – 86.4%

Major improvements from the last round of monitoring include an increase in overall BMP implementation on stream crossings and roads as well as an increase in implementation rates across all ownership groups. Although progress has been made in road and stream crossing construction, there is still room for improvement since these areas can have an impact on water quality.

Through the hard work and commitment of the forestry community, we have done an excellent job in protecting water quality by implementing BMPs on our forestry activities. Let’s challenge ourselves to improve upon this all time high, and reach an overall implementation rate of 95% for the next round. Congratulations on a job well done! If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the September 2002 issue of the Texas Logger

Thursday, August 1, 2002

August BMP Q&A

By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:   A major perennial stream flows through our property and floods at least once a year. These high waters have blown out several culverts and caused severe erosion on the stream banks. Reinstalling another culvert is extremely expensive, so we have decided to retire this rarely used crossing. However, we still would like to stabilize the banks to keep them from washing into the stream. Is there an effective way to accomplish this?

A:   Stream crossings can be very expensive to install and maintain, and if they don’t function properly, can cause major impacts to water quality. These “contact points” are areas where soil can directly enter streams. Retiring old crossings that are not used and stabilizing their stream banks are excellent practices to reduce the potential severity of sedimentation problems.

Restored and seeded stream crossing
There are several effective ways that you can stabilize the stream banks of this crossing. Establishing a good vegetative cover on these erodible sites through seeding will help keep the bank intact and filter runoff water before it reaches the stream. Seed mixes should include a variety of grasses suited for the site conditions present to ensure a high survival rate. Planting in the spring or fall can greatly increase the success of this operation. Fertilizers should not be applied inside the Streamside Management Zone (SMZ) to prevent stream contamination.

Depending on the time of year and the site conditions, grasses may not always grow in these areas. Spreading hay along these banks can also provide erosion control. This method is extremely effective when it is done after seeding. As the hay decomposes, the grass seed begins to germinate and holds the soil in place. This material can be applied more efficiently and evenly distributed using hay blowers. Care should be taken to avoid hay from reaching the stream channel.

Another method that works well is installing rock along the slopes. Securing this material in place can provide great erosion protection and bank stability, however this procedure is generally more expensive than the above mentioned. It is also important to prevent rocks from entering the channel and impeding stream flow.

There are many other techniques that can be implemented to help with this problem, including geotextiles, bioengineering products, and other erosion control fabrics. More information can be found on the Texas Forest Service webpage under the BMP Product and Vendor Guide. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the August 2002 issue of the Texas Logger

Monday, July 1, 2002

BMP Informer - July 2002

July Issue of the BMP Informer Now Available

July BMP Q&A

By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:   My family owns some forested property located near the Red River Valley in Lamar County that we use extensively for recreation. The heavy rains that fell this past winter have caused severe erosion to occur on the main road, making it impassable in certain areas. We tried revegetating it with grass, but the seed did not take, probably because the area is heavily shaded by hardwoods. This is the only road that provides access to the backside of the property and we must be able to drive it. What can we do?

A:   The sandy soils that are typical of the landscape along the Red River Valley are highly erodible. Combine this with the heavy rains we had this past winter and even the slightest topography, and it is extremely difficult to keep your road from washing. However, the use of certain Best Management Practices can prevent this from occurring.

The first area of concern that needs to be addressed is the shading of the road system. Road systems that are heavily shaded do not receive enough sunlight necessary to dry them after storm events. This can lead to rutting and increased washing, which ultimately limits vehicular access. Harvesting trees along the road bank can ensure drying of the road and will go along way in fixing the erosion problem.

The road will also need to be reconstructed in the areas that have severe erosion in order to make them passable again. During the reconstruction process, it is important to consider installing water control devices. These structures are useful in diverting water off the roadway, reducing the erosion hazard of the site. Rolling dips can be used to accomplish this and at the same time, allow truck traffic on the road. A medium sized dozer should be able to handle this task.

To provide additional protection to your road, it would be a good idea to revegetate it again. This activity will help hold the soil in place, stabilizing it so that future washing will be minimal. Since the hardwood trees are not shading the area anymore, more sunlight can reach the seeds, allowing them to germinate. If necessary, fertilizer can be applied to speed up the process of establishing vegetative cover.

Fixing washed out roads can become quite expensive and time consuming, but is absolutely necessary in order to have good access to your property. It also prevents sedimentation from occurring in nearby streams. Finding a contractor that can perform a turnkey operation (harvest the roadside timber, rework, and revegetate the road) on your property will be more economical.

The Texas Forestry Best Management Practices Bluebook can help you with the recommended specifications of constructing rolling dips (p. 45-46) and seeding (p. 61-65). If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the July 2002 issue of the Texas Logger

Saturday, June 1, 2002

June BMP Q&A

By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:   Five years ago, we harvested timber and left an extra wide (200 feet on either side) Streamside Management Zone (SMZ) along an intermittent stream. The erosion hazard on this tract is very slight due to the slope and soil type, and it was reforested the following year. The reason for leaving such a large zone was for wildlife habitat. This property is currently under a hunting lease and by doing this, my lessees will benefit from improved hunting. However, I would still like to thin this SMZ in the future, but do not want to wipe out part of my 4 year old plantation to ensure that a set is not located inside the SMZ. What can I do?

A:   First off, I am very pleased to hear that you have left such a wide SMZ. This will not only provide larger travel corridors for wildlife, but it will also function in greater water quality protection. Maybe now your lessees will understand if the price of their hunting lease rises.

Streamside Management Zones (SMZs) protect water quality and provide wildlife habitat
The Texas Forestry Best Management Practices “Bluebook” recommends locating sets at least 50 feet away from the edge of the SMZ. This will help minimize the chance of erosion and sedimentation from occurring, as well as limit the possibility of a chemical spill reaching the stream. Strict adherence to this voluntary guideline would direct you to construct the set in the newly established plantation.

However, the book also states that SMZs should have a minimum width of 50 feet on either side of perennial and intermittent streams, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. Since the width of your SMZ was extended past the minimum guidelines for purposes other than water quality protection (wildlife habitat), I do not think it is necessary to clear part of your new plantation for this set. The extra width on your SMZ should give you plenty of room to comply with both recommendations.

During the thinning operation, I would suggest locating the set just inside the area that was left for wildlife habitat. This maximizes the distance from the set to the intermittent stream while allowing you to save your new plantation. The residual density in the first 50 feet along the stream should be at least 50 square feet of basal area per acre, evenly distributed. Skid trails should be minimized in this area also.

If possible, sets should have a slight slope to permit drainage and be on firm, well drained soils that dry quickly. This practice can prevent mud holes from forming. Equipment that is serviced on-site should be done very carefully to avoid spills. Used chemicals should be drained into containers and properly disposed in accordance with all laws and regulations. Any trash associated with the thinning operation should be removed. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the June 2002 issue of the Texas Logger

Wednesday, May 1, 2002


By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:   A network of drainage ditches and canals have been set up throughout the low lying areas of Southeast Texas to function in flood control. Normally, when I am harvesting a tract of timber that borders one of these structures, I protect this waterway with a Streamside Management Zone (SMZ). Recently, I have been asked by the Drainage District on any future harvests to cut up to the banks. This practice assists the district in maintaining these devices. Does this go against the state recommended Best Management Practices (BMPs)? Is there anything I should be aware of when carrying out their request?

A:   I am glad you asked this question. The flat topography that is typical of this area is also sometimes associated with soils that have poor drainage, causing water to pond. Drainage ditches and canals are important tools that can reduce the potential threat from flooding in Southeast Texas. Without these structures, millions of dollars in financial losses could be expected from frequent rain events. Can you imagine the impact Tropical Storm Allison would have had if these devices were not installed?

The Texas Forestry Best Management Practices Bluebook states that “SMZs for man-made drainage ditches should be established if appropriate”. You are to be commended for doing this on your previous harvests. These areas are a little different from springs, creeks, rivers, and other waterbodies in the fact that they are not naturally occurring and their primary use is for flood control. The main objective of BMPs is to protect water quality, so this should always be a consideration when working adjacent to these areas.

After discussing this issue with the drainage district, I understand their reasoning. Sometimes when timber is left along the banks, falling trees or limbs can impede water flow. When this happens, a greater impact to water quality can occur. Removing this debris is very costly and labor intensive, and also slows the implementation of the district’s BMPs. These guidelines, approved by the EPA and TNRCC, require them to re-slope their structures and provide plantings and mulch cover to prevent erosion and stream degradation.

Cutting all the way up to the banks at the request of the drainage district on man-made drainage structures would not be against the voluntary state BMPs. However, certain practices should be followed when conducting forestry activities adjacent to these ditches and canals. It is important that logging and site preparation debris is kept out of these devices and that soil disturbance is minimized in these areas. Bedding operations and other activities should not channel runoff water into these waterways. All herbicide and fertilizer applications should ensure that chemicals remain on site and out of waterbodies. Canal crossings should be avoided unless they are critical and can be installed properly.

This practice should only be conducted on man-made drainage structures and at the request of the local drainage district. Coordination with the district on the timing of harvest and re-sloping of the ditches or canals is crucial. Water quality can be impacted if there is a long time period between these activities. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the May 2002 issue of the Texas Logger

Monday, April 1, 2002

April BMP Q&A

By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:   I have installed several culverts that have blown out this winter due to high rain events. Last month you mentioned a workshop for county commissioners and road crews that talked about proper culvert sizing and installation? I would like to know how I can prevent my culverts from blowing out, but question whether they should be installed to withstand a 5 inch rain. Is this reasonable? What can I do?

A:   Sorry to hear about your culverts blowing out. Culverts can be used as effective stream crossings, but when they fail, they can be very costly to replace, not mentioning the time it takes to reinstall them, but also the extra sediment that reaches the stream channel. This is why it is so important that proper culvert sizing and installation techniques are used.

It may seem as if a 5 inch rain is not a common occurrence in East Texas and would be hard to plan for, but in all actuality this is not as rare as you might think. This type of rain event does occur, especially in the last couple of years. Installing best management practices (culverts, waterbars, wing ditches, etc.) to safeguard against larger storm events would not be economically feasible and even the best structures would fail during natural disasters.

Before installing culverts, it is important to know the soil type, slope, and how big your drainage area is so you can properly size your culvert. Soils information can easily be found using a soil survey. Topographic maps can help you determine the slope and drainage area of the tract that you are working. To calculate the drainage area, use a topographic map to locate hill tops and decide which way runoff water will drain through a particular point (stream crossing). On a standard 1: 24000 USGS topographic map, one square inch equals 90 acres.

Once you have determined the soil type, slope, and drainage area, you can use a culvert sizing chart to assist you with selecting the right culvert. This chart is found on page 50 of the Texas Forestry Best Management Practices Handbook. Make sure that you buy a long enough pipe so that at least 1 foot extends on each side past the fill material.

Place the culvert in a firm, straight section of the stream channel on a 1-2% downgrade to prevent clogging. There should always be at least one foot of cover to help anchor culverts in and protect them from being damaged by traffic. A general rule of thumb to follow is one foot of fill per one foot of culvert diameter. It may also be necessary to install rip rap, geo-textile cloth, or large stone at the inlet and outlet to reduce erosion and washouts. The approaches to the crossing should be straight and at right angles to the streambed.

Frequent inspections and proper maintenance needs to be performed on all culvert crossings to ensure that they are safe and functional. A clogged or damaged culvert is very susceptible to blowing out under normal rainfall. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the April 2002 issue of the Texas Logger

Friday, March 1, 2002

March BMP Q&A

By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:   I am a road building contractor that works mainly on company forestland in Southeast Texas. My employers have developed standards and requirements that I must meet regarding BMPs and protecting water quality when I operate. This sometimes includes extensive training. Do county commissioners and road crews have to undergo a similar process when constructing or maintaining public roads?

A:   You bet! County commissioners are responsible for building or maintaining thousands of miles of roads every year, so they are constantly sending their crews to attend training. This training may include workshops that focus on new techniques, equipment, products, and safety procedures to implement when they are working.

The Texas Forest Service has even gotten involved in offering training to these groups. Ninety percent of all sedimentation (dirt getting into streams) occurs from road systems, clearly showing that erosion from these areas can pose a significant risk to water quality. This risk can be minimized by using Best Management Practices (BMPs), techniques designed to manage water effectively, during the road building process. In order to bring attention to this problem, we are providing water quality awareness training through the Texas Silvicultural Non Point Source Pollution Project.

These workshops are a partnership effort between the Texas Forest Service and local East Texas counties. The judge, county commissioners, and road crews all attend these meetings to get a better understanding of how our operations can impact water systems. These training sessions have already been held for Angelina, Nacogdoches, Upshur, and Morris Counties. Additional counties are being scheduled for future dates.

The workshop starts off with a general overview of the importance in protecting water quality. Every person places a demand on our water resources in one way or another, from drinking and bathing to recreational uses such as fishing or swimming. Impairing our water systems will drastically limit these uses for future generations. Participants understand that their actions in the field can have a direct impact on water quality.

Charles Snowden of the Natural Resources Conservation Services, follows with information regarding the major soil types found in East Texas. Understanding the different characteristics of soils is critical in determining equipment operability, flooding potential, erosion hazard, permeability, etc. Culvert sizing, based on a 5 inch rain, is another major point that is stressed to the group. Improper sizing of culverts can lead to blowouts, which can be very costly, waste time and impair water quality.

The Texas Logging Council Coordinator, Bob Currie, rounds out the agenda. Bob utilizes his expertise from his days with Currie Construction to talk about effective road building techniques. This includes everything from efficient ways to install BMPs to special tricks of the trade. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the March 2002 issue of the Texas Logger

Friday, February 1, 2002

February BMP Q&A

By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:   Several months ago, you mentioned that having a pre harvest conference with the landowner was an important part of the planning process. These meetings allow you to know exactly what your client’s expectations are, as well as other pertinent information. Is there anything else that my company should be doing in the planning process of a harvest operation?

A:   There sure is! The planning process of any forestry activity is extremely important. This stage allows you to layout your operations in the most productive, economical, and environmentally sensitive manner possible. The time spent on planning will prove to be invaluable to your business. The following tools discussed below are available for your use at little or no charge.

Aerial photographs can be extremely helpful in viewing the entire landscape before any work is done. These tools can show you the location of roads, streams, structures, land uses, and even timber types. It is important to remember that aerial photographs are a snapshot in time, and are only as good as the date they were taken. This means that some features on a photo may change in the future, however roads and streams usually remain constant. These photos are available at the Texas Forest Service, tax assessor’s office, and the Internet.

Topographical maps are also important to use during this process. These maps show changes in elevation through a series of contour lines. This can be helpful when laying out road systems, estimating BMP costs, and also determining if a tract is suitable for wet weather harvesting. Blue line streams are also easily designated on these maps, taking some of the guesswork out of determining if a streamside management zone is needed. You can obtain these maps from hunting stores, state and federal agencies, and the Internet.

Soil surveys are another tool that can provide a lot of information to contractors. These books, published by the NRCS, classify the different soil types that are found in an area. A general description of each soil type is included, along with many charts that contain more detailed information regarding flooding frequency, duration, equipment operability, and much more. Knowing and understanding the soil type of the property that you are working on can be a tremendous help. Generally, a tract that has a sandy soil type coupled with moderate to steep topography will lead to increased BMP costs.

The Texas Forestry Best Management Practices Handbook is also another very important tool to use before conducting forestry activities. This manual contains recommended guidelines that will protect water quality during these operations. Specifications for road and skid trail construction, waterbar placement, culvert installation, SMZs, wetlands, and countless other topics are addressed. These books are available at any Texas Forest Service office. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the February 2002 issue of the Texas Logger

Tuesday, January 1, 2002

January BMP Q&A

By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:   I am interested in replanting my cutover timberland, but want to make sure that I follow all state recommended Best Management Practices. Mechanical site preparation was done on the contour several months ago and the site is ready to plant. What do I need to be aware of to ensure that water quality is protected during the planting operation?

A:   I am very glad to hear that you are interested in replanting your property. This act of good stewardship will allow you to receive a better return on your investment and help satisfy the ever-increasing demand for forest products. It will also aid in water quality protection. Senate Bill 977 and other key legislation have developed tax incentives to encourage reforestation, so make sure you take advantage of these new laws.

The potential threat from erosion and sedimentation is not as great in planting operations as it is in mechanical site preparation. A larger area is generally disturbed more intensively in the latter, therefore a higher risk to water quality is present. Several factors can influence the magnitude of this risk, mainly the amount of exposed soil, degree of slope, and type of soil.

Machine planting along the contour
Laying out your mechanical site preparation on the contour was an EXCELLENT thing to do! This practice reduces the amount of erosion that can occur on a site, because it functions as a terrace. When rainfall hits the top of a hill, the contours help slow down the runoff water. This allows any sediment that has been eroded away from the hillside to be deposited before it can reach a waterbody.

When planting, especially using a machine, it is important to continue to follow the contour of the land. By not doing this, you are increasing the possibility of erosion that may occur. Water will quickly flow down a furrow, washing out the soil in these rows. Skid trails, temporary roads, and other woods roads that are no longer needed should be planted through.

Streamside Management Zones should always be clearly designated so that they are protected from site preparation and planting operations. These areas function as filters for streams and creeks, so minimal disturbance from equipment is recommended.

During these silvicultural processes, water control devices (culverts, waterbars, wing ditches, etc.) may become damaged. It is important to avoid this if possible, but in the event that it occurs, repairs should be made immediately. Reasonable attempts should be made to stabilize any erosion that results.

Any trash (fluids, equipment parts, paper and plastic products, etc.) that is associated with these activities should be hauled to a legal waste disposal site. Equipment fluids need to be caught in containers and disposed of in accordance with state and manufacturer regulations. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the January 2002 issue of the Texas Logger