Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February BMP Q&A

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

Q: I know that the Texas Forest Service periodically monitors and reports on the rate that best management practices are being used during our forestry operations in Texas. What is our current implementation rate and how does that compare to the rest of the United States?

A: Great question! The implementation rate for forestry best management practices (BMP) is a key measure for judging the effectiveness of our efforts to protect water quality during forest operations. For nearly two decades now the Texas Forest Service BMP program has been monitoring the level of BMP implementation on forestry operations across East Texas. Over this time, implementation of Forestry BMPs has risen from 79% in 1992 to its current level of 92%. That means that at any given time 9 out of every 10 forestry operations in East Texas are implementing BMPs properly. Now that is certainly something we should all be proud of! 

So how do we stack up with the rest of the country? Well let’s first look at how our 92% implementation rate compares to the rest of the south. In 2008 the Southern Group of State Foresters (SGSF), representing 13 southern states (including Texas), published a report comparing BMP monitoring data across the South from 1997 - 2007. The overall implementation rate was 87%, so as you can see, Texas is a leader in the region. 

We can also make this comparison in finer detail. The report breaks down BMP implementation into seven categories: timber harvesting, site preparation, forest roads, stream crossings, SMZs, chemical application, and firebreaks. The implementation rate for each of these categories across the south was at least 85%, except the firebreaks category which only scored 73%. In Texas, results from the most recent round of monitoring (2008) demonstrate higher rates of implementation in each of these categories with the exception of stream crossings and SMZs. However, implementation in these categories was within three percentage points of the average for the Southern Region and has shown significant improvement since the first survey in 1992.

Comparing implementation rates across the country is a little trickier because different BMP guidelines and evaluation systems are used, and because some states do not monitor or report BMP implementation. A recently published report (2010) estimates the national average BMP implementation rate, after adjusting for different harvest levels in each state, to be 89%. The average implementation rate reported by the states with the 10 highest annual harvest removals, which includes Texas, was 91%. However, it should be noted that several of these states have strict regulatory programs for protecting water quality. Texas has achieved a 92% BMP implementation rate through voluntary compliance alone.

The take home message here is that Texas is a leader in implementing forestry BMPs, both at the regional and national level. That of course is the direct result of conscientious loggers and landowners such as you voluntarily taking the initiative to protect water quality during forest operations. Let’s continue to keep the use of BMPs in Texas voluntary by protecting water quality and showing the rest of the country how to operate in an efficient, economical, and environmental manner.

To learn more about Texas’s forestry BMP implementation rate, please visit our website at http://txforestservice.tamu.edu/water or contact the Texas Forest Service water resources office in Lufkin (936) 639-8180 or Longview (903) 297-3910. If you have any questions about BMPs please contact Chuck Coup at the TFS office in Lufkin.

* This article was published in the February 2011 issue of the Texas Logger 

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