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

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