Thursday, September 1, 2005

September BMP Q&A

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

Q:   I am a landowner here in East Texas and I like to use aerial photographs to help me manage my property.  Aerial photographs help me determine and maintain access roads, boundary lines, and aid in planning harvest operations.  I have problems finding good quality and up-to-date photographs of East Texas.  I heard that the Texas Forest Service takes aerial photographs of East Texas and can provide landowners with copies.  Is this correct and if so how can I obtain a copy of my property?

A:   This is a great question and, yes, the Texas Forest Service has continued to take aerial photographs of East Texas since 1979.  These photographs are taken during the winter months after hardwood trees have dropped their leaves usually, December through the first part of March.  By taking photographs during the winter months ground features are  more recognizable and delineating pine and hardwood stands is easier. 

All Texas Forest Service District offices in East Texas maintain a set of 9x9 photographs covering the district.  Texas Forest Service personnel use these photographs for forest management work, forest fire control, southern pine beetle aerial surveys and ground detection, and other uses.  Each photograph has a scale of 1:15,840 (one inch on the photo equals 1,320 feet on the ground) and covers approximately 3,200 acres or five square miles.

Aerial photographs are a useful tool for any forest management activity.  These photographs can be used in conjunction with soil survey maps, USGS topographical maps, and on the ground reconnaissance to plan and execute any forest management activity.  Photos can aid in determining property and harvest boundaries, locating appropriate places to install access roads, marking streamside management zones, and protecting other sensitive areas that may be located on the property.

If you are a landowner and are interested in getting a bird’s eye view of your property visit your local Texas Forest Service District Office.  Personnel in these offices can assist you in finding the best photograph that covers your property or place of interest.  An order form for aerial photographs can be found online as well at and by clicking on the Forest Management tab located on the left side of the screen.  Here you will find a link to the order form.  Complete this form and mail it to the address listed on the order form.

Inquiries regarding aerial photographs should be directed to your local Texas Forest Service District Office but if you have questions regarding BMPs, please contact me by calling (936) 639-8180.   

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

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