Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December BMP Q&A

By: Chuck Coup, BMP Forester (Ret.), Texas Forest Service

Q: I have heard that the Texas Forest Service has recently released a revised version of the Forestry Best Management Practices Handbook, is this true? If so, why was it revised and how can I get a copy?

A: You heard correctly, a new version of the Forestry Best Management Practices handbook was printed in August and is now available.

Texas Best Management Practices (BMPs) for protecting water quality during forestry operations are periodically updated to account for new research, technology, and operational methods. The Texas Forest Service has been working with the Texas Forestry Association’s BMP Task Force for over a year to evaluate and make revisions to the current forestry BMP guidelines. Members of the task force represent loggers, various state and federal agencies, academia, private industry, environmental organizations, and landowners across the region. Revisions to the guidelines were made in an effort to continue to improve and enhance the ability of forest landowners, loggers, and other forestry professionals to effectively protect water quality before, during, and after forestry operations.

Forestry BMPs were first developed in Texas in 1989, and have undergone four revisions since that time. The 1992 revision recommended that Streamside Management Zones (SMZs) be maintained on intermittent streams, and wetland BMPs were added to the handbook as part of the 1995 revision. In 2004, the guidelines were clarified, and information on stream classification and basal area calculations (a measure of forest density), two important factors in providing adequate SMZ protection to streams, was added.

The most recent update to the handbook, August 2010, further clarifies the guidelines, and includes improved BMP design schematics, and information on slope calculations and wetland protection. Federal regulations for mechanical site preparation for pine establishment in forested wetlands are included in the manual, along with indicators of established and ongoing forest operations, a critical component of complying with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The glossary was reformatted and several definitions were added or revised.

To make the new books distinguishable from past versions, the color was changed from dark blue to light blue. A summary of all revisions made to the BMP guidelines has been included at the beginning of the new BMP handbook. I would encourage you to take some time and review all the revisions and familiarize yourself with any of the changes.  It would be a good opportunity for you to re-visit the handbook if you have not thumbed through it in a while.

To obtain a free copy of the new BMP handbook, please visit the Texas Forest Service website at or contact the Texas Forest Service BMP project office in Lufkin (936) 639-8180 or Longview (903) 297-3910. If you have any questions about BMPs or any of the revisions made to the BMP handbook please contact Chuck Coup at the TFS office in Lufkin.

* This article was published in the December 2010 issue of the Texas Logger

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