By: Chris Duncan, BMP Forester (Ret.), Texas Forest Service
Q: In last month’s article I was asked if there was any truth to the fact that there are sometimes mandatory BMPs which must be followed.
A: The short answer to this question is that there are no mandatory BMPs you are required to follow, unless you are operating in jurisdictional wetlands. As mandated by Amendments to the Clean Water Act, forest roads in jurisdictional wetlands including “waters of the United States” must be constructed and maintained in accordance with the following Best Management Practices to retain Section 404 permit exemption status:
- Permanent roads, temporary access roads, and skid trails in waters of the U.S. should be held to the minimum feasible number, width, and total length consistent with the purpose of specific silvicultural operations and local topographic and climatic conditions.
- All roads, temporary or permanent, should be located sufficiently far from streams or other water bodies (except portions of such roads that must cross water bodies) to minimize discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S.
- The road fill should be bridged, culverted or otherwise designed to prevent the restriction of expected flood flows.
- The fill should be properly stabilized and maintained to prevent erosion during and following construction.
- Discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. to construct a road fill should be made in a manner that minimizes the encroachment of trucks, tractors, bulldozers, or other heavy equipment within waters of the U.S. (including adjacent wetlands) that lie outside the lateral boundaries of the fill itself.
- In designing, constructing, and maintaining roads, vegetative disturbance in the waters of the U.S. should be kept to a minimum.
- The design, construction, and maintenance of the road crossing should not disrupt the migration or other movement of those species of aquatic life inhabiting the water body.
- Borrow material should be taken from upland sources whenever feasible.
- The discharge should not take, or jeopardize the continued existence of, a threatened or endangered species as defined under the Endangered Species Act, or adversely modify or destroy the critical habitat of such species.
- Discharges into breeding and nesting areas for migratory waterfowl, spawning areas, and wetlands should be avoided if practical alternatives exist.
- The discharge should not be located in the proximity of a public water supply intake.
- The discharge should not occur in areas of concentrated shellfish population.
- The discharge should not occur in a component of the National Wild and Scenic River System.
- The discharge of material should consist of suitable material free from toxic pollutants in toxic amounts.
- All temporary fills should be removed in their entirety and the area restored to its original elevation.
For more information on mandatory forest road BMPs and other 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 March 2010 issue of the Texas Logger