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