Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Texas Water Source - December 2011

December Issue of the Texas Water Source Now Available

December BMP Q&A

By: Chris Duncan, Water Resources Forester (Ret.), Texas Forest Service

Q:  I usually try to comply with Best Management Practices (BMPs) on my harvesting operations, but it is not always easy dealing with landowners. I have a hard time explaining the benefits of following the recommended guidelines. What advice would you give me to tell my clients to convince them of the importance of using BMPs?

A:   This is a tough problem that many loggers and contractors are faced with every day. Implementing BMPs is not only time consuming, but can also be costly. It is understandable that in today’s tough economy, many landowners want as much value from their land as possible when harvesting timber from their property. However, if you take some time to explain to the landowner the many advantages that BMPs provide, using BMPs often becomes a more appealing option.

The ultimate goal of BMPs is to provide us with clean water. After a year of such terrible drought, I think we can all agree that water is very important to us all. There is a limited amount of fresh water available for human consumption and we cannot afford to do anything that will further reduce our water source. Polluted water is very expensive to treat, causing our water bills to rise.

Erosion control is also another important function of BMPs. Erosion can be very damaging to the productivity of the site, can greatly reduce accessibility, and can be very damaging to the environment. This process removes valuable soil that is necessary to grow quality timber. At the same time site productivity is decreasing, there is also an increased risk of sedimentation into our streams.

Wildlife can also benefit from implementing BMPs. Streamside Management Zones (SMZs) can provide habitat and travel corridors for many species, including deer, birds, and squirrels. Water temperatures in streams are kept inside a constant range due to the shade provided by the SMZ, maintaining aquatic populations of fish, amphibians, and insects.

The Texas Reforestation and Conservation Act of 1999 (SB 977) allows for a financial incentive to using BMPs. This legislation gives forest landowners property tax relief in special qualified zones, such as SMZs and reforested acres. Under this bill, a landowner would receive a 50% reduction in their appraised value for these restricted use timberland zones.

In Texas, we are operating under a voluntary BMP system. This means that there are no laws mandating that we follow the recommended guidelines. If we choose not to adhere to these principles, then we might enter into a regulatory system. This type of situation would further infringe upon private property rights, be more costly, and less efficient.

The reasons listed above are good selling points to make a case for installing BMPs on your property. The Texas Forest Service has several brochures and BMP fact sheets on their webpage that are very educational and available for you to use. They are located at If you would prefer to have one of our water resources foresters talk to the landowner directly or have a any questions regarding BMPs, please call us at (936) 639-8180.

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