By: Chris Duncan, BMP Forester (Ret.), Texas Forest Service
Q: Two months ago I addressed the areas in which deficiencies were observed in the most recent Texas Forest Service BMP Implementation Monitoring report that was released in December 2008. This month I would like to address the areas in which improvements were made.
A: In case you missed it the Texas Forest Service completed its seventh round of BMP Implementation Monitoring and released a report in December 2008 detailing the results of the monitoring. The Texas Forest Service conducts these monitoring rounds approximately every two years in an effort to demonstrate how well BMPs are being implemented on silvicultural operations here in East Texas. During the Round 7 monitoring, three major improvements were noted: 1) a decrease in the number of significant risks to water quality 2) a higher overall rate of BMP implementation on avoiding or minimizing the number of temporary stream crossings and 3) a higher overall BMP implementation on site preparation and wetlands.
To begin with, let’s take a look at the first improvement – a decrease in the number of significant risks to water quality. A significant risk to water quality is an existing on-the-ground condition resulting from failure to correctly implement BMPs, that if left unmitigated, has already or will likely result in an adverse change in the chemical, physical or biological condition of a waterbody. Such change may or may not violate water quality standards. Of the 18 significant risks identified, 15 of them were for not properly removing and restoring temporary stream crossings. Significant risks to water quality can be avoided by making sure that roads are properly stabilized, stream crossings are properly removed, restored, and stabilized, and that there is an adequate SMZ along all perennial and intermittent streams.
The second improvement that was identified was a higher overall rate of BMP implementation on avoiding or minimizing the number of temporary stream crossings. A good job is being done at avoiding or minimizing the number of temporary crossings installed during operations. This is a major improvement because stream crossings come in direct contact with the stream. By choosing to cross a stream the risk of impacting water quality is increased. Proper planning and using available resources such as topographic maps, aerial photos, and “on the ground” reconnaissance can help you determine if a stream crossing is necessary; and if so, where they should be located to minimize the number needed.
The third improvement that was identified was a higher overall BMP implementation on site preparation and wetlands. Fifty-three sites were evaluated for implementation with site preparation BMPs. The implementation for site preparation was 98% with one significant risk noted. The lowest implementation was for honoring SMZ integrity and respecting sensitive areas (96% for both categories). Seventeen sites had wetland or “wetland like” areas – not necessarily jurisdictional wetlands. These sites had an overall implementation of 100%. No significant risks were noted and all mandatory road BMPs for wetlands were followed.
Overall a good job is being done implementing and adhering to Texas BMP guidelines as shown by the 91.5% BMP implementation rate for Round 7. Hopefully in the future there will be a continued improvement of the BMP implementation rate.
To view the full report titled “Voluntary Implementation of Forestry Best Management Practices in East Texas, Round 7” visit the Texas Forest Service webpage at http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/water. For more information regarding this report or BMPs please contact me at (903) 297-3910.
* This article was published in the May 2009 issue of the Texas Logger