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

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