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

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