Wednesday, June 1, 2005

June BMP Q&A

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

Q:   I am considering selling some of my timber but I have never done anything like this before.  I want to have a timber sale contract drawn up and wanted to make sure that best management practices (BMP’s) are included.  Are there any specific BMP’s that I should include in the contract or just say that all BMP’s should be followed?

A:  I am glad to hear that you are taking the time to have a timber sale contract drawn up before conducting your timber sale.  Timber sale contracts are important because they provide a set of guidelines for the sale to operate under but most importantly they protect the interest of both the buyer and seller.  There are many things to consider and to include when writing a timber sale contract and that is why is it is important to have a professional forester help you with this versus doing it yourself.  Although some things are specific to a specific sale and may not apply to yours, BMP’s should always be included in any timber sale contract.
Including BMP’s in your timber sale contract helps ensure that all guidelines and recommendations for Texas Forestry BMP’s will be followed and water quality will be protected. Some landowners simply put a clause in their contract stating that all Texas Forestry BMP’s will be followed during the harvest operation while others find it necessary to spell out specific BMP’s that should be implemented.

Specific guidelines that may need to be spelled out may include defining “wet weather”.  The definition of wet weather differs from person to person so it is good to include a statement defining wet weather and when work should be halted due to wet weather.  Conducting a harvest operation when it is too wet can lead to excessive rutting which changes the natural drainage, channels water increasing erosion and sedimentation, and lowers site productivity.  The Texas Forest Service recommends that rutting not exceed six inches in depth for a length of more than fifty feet.

Other guidelines that you may want to include in your contract are where and how streams should be crossed and all roads should be revegetated upon the completion of the harvesting operation.  There may be certain areas along your stream that you do not want a logger disturbing by putting in a stream crossing so that would need to be included in your contract.  Also you would want to state that all temporary crossings should be removed and the stream banks and approaches restored and stabilized. 

The road systems implemented during harvest operations account for approximately 90% of all sedimentation that occurs during and after silvicultural operations.  Stating that all roads and skid trails should be stabilized by either revegetating or slashing, depending on your access needs, should be included in the contract.  The Texas Forest Service recommends that all skid trails and haul roads be properly stabilized by using water control structures such as waterbars, by revegetating or slashing, and/or reshaping the road.

Many important things go into writing a timber sale contract and conducting a successful timber sale and that is why it is recommended that you seek assistance from a professional forester.  Also another good way to ensure that BMP’s are used during your operation is to choose a Pro-Logger who has been trained in implementing BMP’s.  If you have any questions regarding timber sale contracts or BMP’s please call me at (936) 639-8180.  

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

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