Q: First I wanted to say that I attended the Forest Roads BMP workshop in Lufkin in May. This was a very helpful workshop, and I know feel I have a better understanding of road BMPs and how to implement them. Now for my question: I have been working for a Texas Pro Logger for about a year, and he always stresses the importance of BMPs during all phases of the harvest. I guess what I would like to know is not why BMPs are so important, but where do they actually come from? In other words, are these just a bunch of guidelines that where developed by loggers to help protect water quality, or are these “rules” that are handed down by a government agency or something?
A: I’m glad you enjoyed the workshop and hope it gave you a better understanding of forest road BMPs. We are having another workshop in June, and depending on how many loggers we have who are interested in the workshop, will probably be planning some more over the summer or in the fall. I’m glad to here you work for a Texas Pro Logger. They usually have many years of experience in the woods, and are a great source of knowledge. To answer your question as to the source of BMPs, or why they were originated, I will need to explain some events from the past that have led to today’s Texas forestry BMPs.
The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the primary federal law in the United States that governs water pollution. In 1972, Congress passed a CWA act that focused mainly on point sources of pollution. These sources were the easiest to identify and target for permitting and clean-up, since they can be easily traced to a pipe or other pollution “point” source. Many thought that these were the major sources of pollution in our nation’s waterways, and that once they were under control our waterways should start to heal and the problem would be solved. However, after most of these sources were under control, several studies showed that many of our waterways still had pollution problems.
In 1987, Congress passed another act amending the CWA. This new act targeted non-point sources of pollution. This act put the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in charge of all non-point sources of pollution to our waterways. The EPA mandated that each State come up with either a voluntary or regulatory system for controlling and monitoring non-point source pollution.
In Texas, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) is the lead agency for the state’s agricultural and silvicultural non-point source programs. TSSWCB receives funding from the EPA through Section 319(h) of the CWA. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, TSSWCB put the Texas Forest Service (TFS) in charge of creating a set of voluntary guidelines for loggers, foresters, and landowners to follow which would help protect water quality during silvicultural practices. The TFS, in cooperation with many members of the forestry and scientific community, created the Texas Forestry Best Management Practices guidelines. These guidelines have been revised several times over the last decade to account for new silvicultural practices and new scientific information regarding BMP effectiveness.
I hope this short explanation answered your questions as to why we have BMPs and where they stem from. For more information on BMPs visit the Texas Forest Service webpage at http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/water, contact me at (903) 297-3910.
* This article was published in the June 2009 issue of the Texas Logger