Sunday, January 1, 2006

January BMP Q&A

By: Shane Harrington, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q:    I am gearing up to replant my tract after harvesting the timber last summer.  Currently I am in the planning process and trying to get my tract prepared to be planted.  I want to know if there are any precautions that I should take during the planting job related to the use of best management practices (BMPs).

A:    The onset of winter reminds us that it is once again time to start planting seedlings.  Reforesting tracts that have been harvested is important because it ensures that we are managing our forests on a sustainable basis and that future generations will have the same resources available to them that we do.  Just as important is remembering to implement BMPs during all aspects of the planting operation including site preparation. 

Remember these points when doing site preparation and planting:

In general:
  • Mark boundaries of all streamside management zones (SMZs) clearly before site preparation activities.
  • Plan ahead to minimize disturbance by equipment in SMZs.
  • Site preparation activities should skirt SMZs and stream channels.  Any debris should be placed above the ordinary high water mark of any stream or body of open water.
  • Any site preparation practices and planting should be done following the contour of the land.
  • Avoid intensive site preparation on steep slopes and on slopes with thin or highly erodible soils. 
  • Hand-plant excessively steep slopes and wet sites.
When using prescribed fire:
  • Firebreaks should have water control structures (water bars, wing ditches, etc.) in order to minimize erosion.
  • Burning in an SMZ reduces the filtering capacity of the ground covering.  Plan burns to minimize impacts on the SMZ.
  • Avoid, when possible, site prep burns on steep slopes or highly erodible soils.
  • Read and follow manufacturing labels on containers.
When using chemicals:
  • Carefully plan application to avoid direct and indirect entry of chemicals into streams and impoundments.
  • Avoid applying chemicals to vegetation protecting eroded slopes, gullies, drainages, and other fragile areas subject to erosion.
Remember that the sustainable management of your timber includes the proper use of BMPs to protect the quality of our valuable water resources.  Additional information concerning BMPs and site prep/planting jobs can be found in the BMP bluebook or by visiting our website at  If you have any questions regarding BMPs please call me at (936) 639-8180. 

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

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