Wednesday, November 1, 2006

November BMP Q&A

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

Q: I take pride in all of my harvesting operations and that I’m doing my part to protect water quality by implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs).  However, it is not always easy dealing with landowners and conveying to them the importance of using BMPs and protecting water quality.  Do you have any advice on dealing with these landowners and conveying to them the importance of using BMPs?

A: This is a tough problem that many loggers and contractors are faced with every day.  Implementing BMPs is not only time consuming, but can also be costly.  However, after looking at the advantages they provide, using BMPs becomes more appealing.

The ultimate goal of BMPs is to provide us with clean water.  There is a limited amount of fresh water available for human consumption.  This supply is constantly declining due to our explosive population growth.  We cannot afford to do anything that will further reduce our water source.  Polluted water is very expensive to treat, causing our water bills to rise.

In Texas, we are operating under a non-regulatory BMP system.  This means that there are no laws mandating that we follow the recommended guidelines.  If we choose not to adhere to these principles, then we might enter into a regulatory system.  This type of situation would further infringe upon private property rights, be more costly, and less efficient.

Erosion control is also another important function of BMPs.  Erosion can be very damaging to the productivity of the site as well as the environment.  This process removes valuable soil that is necessary to grow quality timber.  At the same time site productivity is decreasing, there is also an increased risk of sedimentation into our streams.               

Wildlife can also benefit from implementing BMPs.  Streamside Management Zones (SMZs) can provide habitat for many species, including deer, birds, and squirrels.  They also function as travel corridors.  Water temperatures in streams are kept inside a constant range due to the shade provided by the SMZ, maintaining aquatic populations of fish, amphibians, and insects.

The Texas Reforestation and Conservation Act of 1999 (SB 977) allows for a financial incentive to using BMPs.  This legislation gives forest landowners property tax relief in special qualified zones, such as SMZs and reforested acres.   Under this bill, a landowner would receive a 50% reduction in their appraised value for these restricted use timberland zones.         

The reasons listed above can be used to convey the importance and benefits of using BMPs to landowners.  The Texas Forest Service (TFS) has several brochures on that are very educational and available for you to use.  They can be found on the TFS website by going to or stop by your local TFS office and pick some up.  Also we are available to visit with any landowner to help convey the importance of using BMPs on their property.  If you need help talking to a landowner or have questions regarding BMPs give us a call at (936) 639-8180.

* This article was published in the November 2006 issue of the Texas Logger