Saturday, January 1, 2005

January BMP Q&A

By: Shane Harrington, BMP Forester (Ret.), Texas Forest Service

Q:  I heard that the Texas Forest Service has recently released a revised version of the BMP Handbook, is this true?  If so, how can I get a copy of the revised handbook? 

A:  The Texas Forest Service along with the Texas Forestry Association’s BMP Task Force recently evaluated and made revisions to the current BMP guidelines.  These revisions were made in an effort to continue to improve and enhance the ability of forest landowners, loggers, and other forestry professionals to effectively protect water quality before, during, and after silvicultural operations.
BMPs were developed in 1989, and have undergone three major revisions over the past 15 years.  It is important to review and update these guidelines periodically to ensure that they are still effective in protecting water quality.  BMPs prevent almost 12,000 tons of dirt from entering East Texas streams annually and over 96,000 tons of dirt from eroding off East Texas forestlands.  This is enough dirt to cover a football field, endzone to endzone, 30 feet high.

To make the new books distinguishable from past versions the color was changed from light blue to dark blue.  Also new terms were added to the glossary, statistical data was updated, and some guidelines were clarified.  

Two sections were added to the handbook that address stream classification and basal area.  The “Stream Classification” section, found under the Recommended Specifications for Streamside Management Zones (SMZs), lists characteristics that can be used in the field to distinguish between perennial, intermittent, and ephemeral streams.  This is important because ephemeral streams do not require leaving an SMZ along both sides.  The other section, entitled “How to Calculate Basal Area” and located in the Appendix, was added to aid loggers, foresters, and landowners in properly calculating basal area to ensure that 50 square feet of basal area is left inside SMZs.  This section gives step-by-step instructions on how to calculate basal area. 

A summary of all revisions made to the BMP guidelines has been placed at the beginning of the new BMP Handbook.  By reviewing all of the revisions and familiarizing yourself with the changes you can ensure that BMPs are being implemented properly.  To obtain a copy of the new BMP Handbook, please visit the Texas Forest Service website at or contact the Texas Forest Service BMP Project Office at (936) 639-8180.  If you have any questions about BMPs or any of the revisions made to the BMP Handbook please contact Shane Harrington at the TFS BMP Project Office.  

* This article was published in the January 2005 issue of the Texas Logger

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