Monday, December 1, 2008

December BMP Q&A

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

Q:  I am interested in replanting my cutover timberland, but want to make sure that I follow all state recommended Best Management Practices.  Mechanical site preparation was done on the contour several months ago and the site is ready to plant.  What do I need to be aware of to ensure that water quality is protected during the planting operation?                 

A:  I am very glad to hear that you are interested in replanting your property.  This act of good stewardship will allow you to receive a better return on your investment and help satisfy the ever-increasing demand for forest products.  It will also aid in water quality protection.  Senate Bill 977 and other key legislation have developed tax incentives to encourage reforestation, so make sure you take advantage of these laws.  

The potential threat from erosion and sedimentation is not as great in planting operations as it is in mechanical site preparation.  A larger area is generally disturbed more intensively in the latter, therefore a higher risk to water quality is present.  Several factors can influence the magnitude of this risk, mainly the amount of exposed soil, degree of slope, and type of soil.   

Machine planting along the contour reduces erosion risks
Laying out your mechanical site preparation on the contour was an EXCELLENT thing to do!  This practice reduces the amount of erosion that can occur on a site, because it functions as a terrace.  When rainfall hits the top of a hill, the contours help slow down the runoff water.  This allows any sediment that has been eroded away from the hillside to be deposited before it can reach a waterbody. 

When planting, especially using a machine, it is important to continue to follow the contour of the land.  By not doing this, you are increasing the possibility of erosion that may occur.  Water will quickly flow down a furrow, washing out the soil in these rows.  Skid trails, temporary roads, and other woods roads that are no longer needed should be planted through. 

Streamside Management Zones should always be clearly designated so that they are protected from site preparation and planting operations.  These areas function as filters for streams and creeks, so minimal disturbance from equipment is recommended.

During these silvicultural processes, water control devices (culverts, waterbars, wing ditches, etc.) may become damaged.  It is important to avoid this if possible, but in the event that it occurs, repairs should be made immediately.  Reasonable attempts should be made to stabilize any erosion that results.   

Any trash (fluids, equipment parts, paper and plastic products, etc.) that is associated with these activities should be hauled to a legal waste disposal site.  Equipment fluids need to be caught in containers and disposed of in accordance with state and manufacturer regulations.  If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180

* This article was published in the December 2008 issue of the Texas Logger

BMP Effectiveness Monitoring 2008

Texas Forest Service BMP Effectiveness Monitoring Study Results Now Available 

Results from the Texas Silvicultural BMP Effectiveness Monitoring Project conducted between 2003 and 2007 are now available in a recently released report titled "Evaluating the Effectiveness of Texas Forestry Best Management Practices." This project was initiated to determine the effectiveness of BMPs in reducing nonpoint source (NPS) pollution from silvicultural activities in Texas. This report documents the findings of this 4 year long monitoring project.

Results from the project indicate that Texas forestry BMPs, when implemented properly, are effective in protecting water quality and aquatic biological communities, and further established that forestry BMPs are the optimum means for minimizing silvicultural nonpoint source pollution.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November BMP Q&A

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

Q:  I know that the Texas Forest Service conducts a BMP Implementation Survey every couple of years and publishes a report showing the results. I would like to know if there is any information on the South as a region and how the region as a whole is doing at implementing BMPs.  I know that other states do similar surveys and would just like to know if there is anything showing BMP implementation results on a regional basis.

A:  Great question! In 1997, a task force appointed by the Southern Group of State Foresters (SGSF) developed guidance to assist states in conducting BMP implementation monitoring.  This “Framework”, which was revised in 2002, was created to promote a consistent approach across the region, allowing monitoring results to be comparable among the states.  The SGSF could then compile results from conforming states and report BMP implementation across the region.  This “regional report” would identify BMP categories needing improvement that the Water Resources Committee could address through regional training, demonstration, and information exchange.  

In June 2008, the Water Resources committee released this report titled “Implementation of Forestry Best Management Practices - A Southern Region Report.”  This publication is the first in the nation to report BMP implementation on a regional level.

The report covers results from 25 statewide BMP implementation monitoring surveys conducted across the Southern region from 1997-2007.   Eleven of the 13 states in the region submitted data collected in conformance with the Framework, and thus were eligible for inclusion in this report.  The two remaining states plan to submit eligible data for the next reporting period.

The Framework calls for the evaluation of seven BMP categories: Harvesting, Site Preparation, Forest Roads, Stream Crossings, Streamside Management Zones, Firebreaks and Chemical Application.  Results from these categories, expressed as a percent, are compiled to determine Overall BMP implementation.

Overall Percent BMP Implementation by Category, Southern Region
Although the regional data identifies several BMP categories in need of improvement, an overall regional implementation rate of 87% is considered notable.  Likewise, “regional progress” has been made in most BMP categories since the Framework was initially published in 1997.  States reporting multiple surveys have shown increases in BMP implementation.  This is largely attributed to the numerous educational, outreach, and training efforts being conducted across the southern region by the states, and to the efforts of the SGSF via the Water Resource Committee.

This report is the first in a planned series to be published every 5 years.  The objective is to provide information at a regional level, for the purpose of continuously improving monitoring methods and BMP implementation, and to promote consistency among states in the southern region for this activity.  To that end, the report identified specific BMP categories (Firebreaks, Stream Crossings, and Forest Roads) the SGSF Water Resources Committee will target for improvement.  To view a copy of this report, visit the Southern Group of State Foresters webpage at

For more information on BMPs in Texas please visit

* This article was published in the November 2008 issue of the Texas Logger

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

BMP Trivia Question

Basal area is a measure of forest density that accounts for the size of the trees. The higher the basal area in a forest, the higher the density of tree cover. Basal area is important to Best Management Practices because Streamside Management Zones (SMZs) need to have at least a minimum basal area of 50 square feet evenly distributed across their area to properly protect perennial and intermittent streams. According to the BMP handbook, what is the definition of basal area?

Click on "comments" below and post your answers.

Monday, September 1, 2008

September BMP Q&A

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

Q: Last month you wrote about the new logger training workshop focusing on stream crossings. I have attended both the new stream crossing workshop as well as the traditional BMP workshop several years ago. I wanted to know if there were any additional classes related to BMPs that I could take or even a refresher class?

A: Glad to know that you have attended both the BMP and Stream Crossing workshops. I hope that the information you learned at the workshops has benefited you on your logging operations since then. The Texas Forest Service along with the Texas Forestry Association are continuously working on new innovative workshops for loggers. 

The traditional BMP workshop was designed to educate loggers on the importance of using BMPs, as well how to implement them correctly on their operations.  , This workshop is one of five “core” classes that loggers must attend to gain their Pro-Logger status.  Since 1995, almost 3,000 loggers have attended the BMP workshop.  Data collected by Texas Forest Service shows that BMP implementation on logging operations has increased to 91.7% since the workshop was developed, an all time high.  This is a direct result of the training that has been provided over the past 13 years.

In 2007 the Texas Forest Service along with the Texas Forestry Association began offering a new workshop focused on stream crossings.  This course was developed to provide in-depth training on the design, layout, implementation, and remediation of stream crossings..  To date, five workshops have been held throughout East Texas with over 170 loggers attending.  While this workshop is not required to gain Pro-Logger status, it does offer loggers the opportunity to obtain their six hours of continuing education credits needed to maintain their Pro-Logger status.

In 2005 the Texas Forest Service developed an online BMP training course as a part of the Pro-Logger program.  This course is meant to serve as a refresher for the core BMP training workshop.  It reviews many of the fundamental aspects of using BMPs and their importance in protecting water quality, as well as highlighting some of the minor revisions that were made to the BMP guidelines in 2004.  This course also provides loggers with a lot of flexibility in obtaining their continuing education hours.  It can be taken at any time online by going to  Participants will receive two hours of continuing education credit.

New BMP workshops are currently being developed and plans are to unveil one of the new workshops in 2009.  The newest BMP workshop being developed will focus on forest roads and how to properly install and maintain these roadways.  The main focus will be on how to prevent erosion from occurring on roadways and entering nearby water bodies.  Ninety percent of all sedimentation or erosion that occurs on logging operations can be attributed to the road system.  There are also plans to unveil another BMP workshop focusing on streamside management zones (SMZs).  For more information regarding current and future BMP workshops call the Texas Forestry Association at (936) 632-8733.  To obtain a copy of the BMP Bluebook or for more information regarding BMPs visit

* This article was published in the September 2008 issue of the Texas Logger

Friday, August 1, 2008

BMP Informer - August 2008

August Issue of the BMP Informer Now Available

August BMP Q&A

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

Q:  Last year I heard that the Texas Forest Service was conducting a new workshop for loggers through the Texas Pro-Logger Program.  Several years ago I attended the BMP Logger Training Workshop in order to obtain my Pro-Logger certification.  Is the workshop I’m hearing about the same as the one that has been offered in years past or is it something new?

A:  Texas Forest Service in 2007 began offering a new BMP workshop focusing on stream crossings to logging professionals as part of the Pro-Logger program.  This course is approved for 6.0 hours of continuing education, meeting the annual requirements for logging contractors to maintain their certification.

To date Texas Forest Service has conducted six workshops in Lufkin, Jefferson, Silsbee, and Woodville.  “The response we have seen from logging professionals in East Texas has been tremendous and the attendance at each workshop proves that with each being full thus far” said Shane Harrington, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service.  “We’ve even had other states contact us about using our workshop as a model for their own states” said Harrington.  Future dates for additional stream crossing workshops are being planned now for 2008.

This new workshop is designed like the traditional BMP course in which attendees spend the morning session participating in discussions, watching videos, and listening to slide presentations.  After lunch, the class travels to several field sites to apply the principles that were presented earlier that morning.   Topics covered in this workshop include:
  • How to plan a stream crossing
  • Advantages and disadvantages of various stream crossing methods 
  • Proper installation and remediation of stream crossings
The idea to develop this course came after the release of the 2005 Texas BMP Implementation Monitoring report, a document produced to determine the extent to which the forestry community is voluntarily following the recommended guidelines.  The report showed that stream crossings consistently ranked lower than any other category evaluated, which is a concern, given the sensitivity of these areas.    

“Implementing BMPs on stream crossings is absolutely critical because these locations are direct contact points to the stream.  Improperly constructing a stream crossing can have a negative impact on water quality,” said Hughes Simpson, Texas BMP Coordinator.

Participants have seen the benefits in attending this course.  Post workshop evaluations show that 97% of attendees would recommend this class to others.  Also the evaluations showed that most attendees would like to see future workshops on streamside management zones and forest roads.  Typical written comments from participants were:
"I think this was a good workshop and everyone that works on dirt needs to attend."

"Good.  The men did a great job of showing different ideas about future logging procedures."

"Thanks for your effort.  The class is needed to try to get everyone on the same page!"

"Good.  Great opportunity to expand knowledge."
A stream crossing workshop is currently being planned for later this fall in the Livingston area and to register for this workshop or any other course required for the Pro-Logger certification, contact the Texas Forestry Association at (936) 632-8733.  For more information on Best Management Practices, please contact the Texas Forest Service at (936) 639-8180 or go online at

* This article was published in the August 2008 issue of the Texas Logger

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

BMP Trivia Question

Timber production is recognized as a land use that is compatible with wetland protection. Although wetlands are federally regulated, normal forestry operations in wetlands such as soil bedding, site preparation, harvesting, and minor drainage are exempt from permit requirements under section 404 of the Clean Water Act Amendments of 1977.

Do you know what Federal Agency regulates operations that are conducted within jurisdictional wetlands?

Click on "comments" below and post your answers.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

June BMP Q&A

By: Jake Donellan, BMP Forester (Ret.), Texas Forest Service

Q:  In your opinion, if loggers had to focus on one specific BMP or area of BMPs what would it be and why?

A:  In evaluating BMP implementation all over east Texas, I see a lot of logging operations. Each logging operation is very different and yet the same elements are present on the majority of the sites I see. If I could get loggers to focus on one thing specifically it would be stream crossings.

I know we have beat this drum for a long time now but it really is a critical area of any harvest operation. Stream crossings are critical areas because this is where loggers can potentially have the greatest impact to water quality if precautions are not taken. As most of you have learned, sedimentation is the biggest concern with forestry operations and 90% of the sediment load comes from our forest roads. It is fairly clear to see that where our roads actually come into contact and cross streams, we have a recipe for problems if attention is not paid to protecting water quality by using proper BMPs.

Removing temporary crossings seems like a very simple task to undertake, it always amazes me when I run into temporary crossings that are left in streams. Most “temporary” crossings that are left behind are typically brush type crossings. These types of crossings do allow some water to pass through which makes them extremely useful to use during the operation. The reason they need to be removed is because they still impede water to a degree and also they trap debris on the upstream side of the crossing. Eventually they become blocked with leaf litter and become in effect a dam. Once this happens, it is only a matter of time before a blow out occurs and an extremely large sediment load around the crossing is eroded away and into the stream channel. This process is sped up during periods of high flow for the stream like during a major rain event. For this reason, most of these types of problem areas are considered significant risks to water quality both in real terms and also on the BMP Implementation Evaluation form. This process holds true for other types of temporary crossings left behind such as pole crossings or log crossings. According to at least one logger I spoke to, it takes less time to remove a brush crossing than it does to install it, and for that reason alone, there should be no reason a temporary brush crossing should ever be left behind.

Temporary crossings that are left in place following an operation can pose a significant risk to water quality

Another BMP as equally important as removing a stream crossing is stabilizing stream crossings and approaches. A lot of good work can be undone by simply not stabilizing the approaches. Approaches have to be stabilized because of their proximity to the stream channel itself. This limited amount of area provides little room for error when it comes to implementing BMPs properly. You can stabilize the approaches by laying down slash, laying down hay, seeding grass, and when necessary installing water bars. Water bars should only be installed on approaches if it is absolutely necessary to prevent a washout occurring on the approach due to steep slopes or moderate slopes on sandy sites. Again, because of the nearness to the stream if water bars are used, they must be installed properly at a 30 to 45 degree angle, 1 to 2 feet in height, tied in properly on the uphill side and venting water off the approach but not directly into the stream itself. When approaches are not stabilized, what typically happens is water begins finding its way down the approach and into the stream and before long a head cut starts right at the stream bank eroding sediment directly into the stream. Rain intensity, slope, and soil type all play a roll into how rapidly the head cut advances back up the slope and ultimately how much sediment is eroded into the stream. Stabilizing with rock or geo-textiles may be considered or necessary on approaches to permanent crossings.

These two areas, removing temporary crossings and stabilizing crossings and approaches, have consistently been problem areas for loggers throughout the history of BMP implementation monitoring. As I have pointed out numerous times, we already have been successful in implementing BMPs but that is no reason to sit on our laurels. If we, the forestry community, focus on addressing these two issues, I think we will have succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.

For more information regarding BMPs consult the Texas Forestry Best Management Practices book (a.k.a. the “Bluebook”), contact your local Texas Forest Service office, or you can contact me.

* This article was published in the June 2008 issue of the Texas Logger

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April BMP Q&A

By: Jake Donellan, BMP Forester (Ret.), Texas Forest Service

Q:   In the past couple of articles you have mentioned that the forestry community has achieved a BMP implementation rate of 91.7% in the “last round.” When was the last round completed and when will we know the results of the next round?

A:   The Texas Forest Service BMP Program currently conducts its implementation monitoring study on a three year cycle. The study has been conducted in various intervals since the TFS BMP Program began in 1989, with the most common interval being two years between studies and the longest interval between studies being four years. It is important to know that there have been some modifications to the forms used to evaluate BMP implementation over the years. The method of evaluation remained the same in the first two rounds of monitoring but by the third round, an improved, less subjective form was adopted and put into use. The sites that were evaluated in the third round were actually evaluated using both forms so a basis of comparison could be made to the earlier rounds.

The first report, Round I, was published in October 1992 and included sites evaluated from mid-1990 to mid-1992. The Round I study found that overall BMP implementation rates were about 88% (79% based on the current BMP implementation evaluation form) and it noted major deficiencies in several major categories of evaluation: permanent roads, temporary roads, streamside management zones, site preparation.
The second report was published four years later in March 1996 with this being the longest interval between monitoring cycles. The Round II study found that overall BMP implementation rates actually dropped to 87.4% (76% based on the current form). Since this study concluded in 1996, there has yet to be another drop in implementation rates.

After 1996, a two year monitoring cycle was adopted so that in 1998, 2000, and 2002, three more rounds of monitoring took place and subsequently three additional reports were published: Round III, Round IV, and Round V. During this six year span, the BMP implementation rate increased from 83.7% in 1998 to a 90.8% in 2002. Progress was definitely made during this period of monitoring to increase implementation rates, minimize non-point source pollution, and improve on the major deficiencies noted in Round I of monitoring.

After 2002, a three year monitoring cycle was adopted, primarily for managerial reasons related to the Federal grant that helps fund the BMP program, so that the next report was published in 2005. In this round, Round VI, BMP implementation rates reached 91.7% which is the implementation number that has been referred to most recently in my articles and also in other publications and at presentations. Simple math indicated that the next report is due out some time this year. In fact, the report will be completed by August 31st and a publication of the results will most likely be available in September or soon thereafter. It is still too early to say if the implementation rate will continue its increase or not but whatever the case, we will have a new number for you soon.

For more information regarding BMPs consult the Texas Forestry Best Management Practices book (a.k.a. the “Bluebook”), contact your local Texas Forest Service office, or you can contact me.

* This article was published in the April 2008 issue of the Texas Logger