Thursday, December 1, 2005

December BMP Q&A

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

Q:    I heard the Texas Forest Service recently completed another round of best management practices (BMP) implementation monitoring.  How well are we implementing BMPs on silvicultural operations and are there any areas that still need improvement?

A:    Last time I addressed the BMP implementation rates for each landowner category as well as the overall BMP implementation rate for the Round 6 BMP Implementation Report.  This month I would like to address the areas in which we had improvements and some areas that still need improvement.

There were three areas in which we saw major improvements from previous rounds.  The three areas where we saw major improvements were the increase in the rate of BMP implementation on family forest lands, a higher overall rate of BMP implementation on permanent and temporary roads, and a decrease in the incidences of significant risks to water quality.  As stated in last month’s article, Family Forest Owners achieved an all time high with an 88.7% BMP implementation rate.  This means that landowners are becoming more familiar and educated about BMPs. 

The increase in implementation on permanent and temporary roads can be attributed to roads being properly placed and water control structures (i.e. waterbars, wing ditches) being used.  This is a major improvement because 90% of all sedimentation that occurs on a tract comes directly from runoff from the roads.  By properly placing roads and using water control structures, sedimentation is less likely to occur. 

The last area, which can be directly related to the previous two improvements, is the decrease in the number of significant risks to water quality.  A significant risk to water quality exists if, during a normal rainfall, sediment is likely to be delivered to a permanent water body.  A permanent water body is defined as any blue line stream (i.e. perennial and intermittent streams) or lake. Significant risks to water quality can be avoided by making sure that roads are properly stabilized, stream crossings are restored and stabilized, and that there is an adequate SMZ.

There were two major deficiencies noted during the evaluations: failure to restore and stabilize stream crossings on temporary roads and failure to remove logging debris from streams.  Once a stream crossing is no longer needed, the crossing should always be removed immediately and the approaches and stream banks should be stabilized and restored to prevent any soil from moving into the stream.  Care should always be taken while operating near a stream or within an SMZ to ensure that logging debris does not end up in the stream.  Any logging debris should be removed immediately from the stream to prevent blocking the natural water flow of the stream and to prevent any sediment from entering the stream.

Overall a good job is being done implementing and adhering to Texas BMP guidelines as shown by the 91.7% BMP implementation rate for Round 6.  This is the highest BMP implementation rate that the Texas Forest Service has ever seen. Hopefully in the future there will be a continued improvement of the BMP implementation rate.  Remember that one way to continue to improve is to recognize the importance of using BMPs to protect water quality by treating each site as if it will be evaluated.   

A copy of the Round 6 Voluntary Implementation of Forestry Best Management Practices in East Texas report can be obtained by visiting the Texas Forest Service website at  For further information regarding the Round 6 BMP implementation report or BMPs in general please call me at (936) 639-8180.

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

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