Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Texas Forest Service Resource Specialists Learn About BMPs

BMPRecently-hired resource specialists got a chance to learn about water quality protection issues during a workshop in Hudson.

Forester Todd Thomas and Resource Specialist Bernie Buckner led the class to expose the new employees to Best Management Practices.

“The BMP training helped newer staff learn how to help mitigate water quality issues while they’re working in the forest,” said Forester Todd Nightingale. “They will be able to use what they learned to assist forest landowners with information, and it will help make them more proficient at fireline rehabilitation operations after wildfires.”

Participants got to install waterbars and learned how to manage site disturbances to reduce impacts to local waterways.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Professional Loggers Know BMPs

Are you considering a logger or operator to carry out a forest management activity on your property, but want to know if they have experience with Best Management Practices (BMPs)?

The Texas Forestry Association maintains a searchable online database of individuals who have received BMP training as part of the “Texas Professional Logger” program.

(click on the image below to access the online logger training database)

Why Should I Use a Pro Logger? 

Among other reasons, Pro Loggers have demonstrated consistently higher levels of BMP use. Since 1992, Texas Forest Service has been monitoring the use of voluntary Best Management Practices on forestry operations across East Texas. Each of the 8 rounds of monitoring that have been conducted to date have concluded that proper BMP use is significantly higher for loggers who are familiar with BMPs and/or who have attended formal BMP training. (TFS BMP monitoring reports are available here

What Training Do Pro Loggers Have? 

In order to become classified as a Texas Pro Logger, individuals must receive training in all of the following core courses: 
  1. Best Management Practices - 8 hours 
  2. Silviculture, Wildlife, Wetlands, Endangered Species, Invasives, Special Sites, Aesthetics - 4 hours 
  3. Safety Training - 4-6 hours (must re-take every 2 years) 
  4. Business Management - 4 hours 
Furthermore, in order to maintain their certification, Pro Loggers must attend a minimum of six (6) hours of continuing education training each year. The Texas Forest Service has developed several courses in BMPs that are available for continuing education training in the program.

For information on when training workshops will be held contact the Texas Forestry Association

How Does the Online Database Work? 

You can use the online database to search for the name of a Pro Logger, the company they work for, or where they are located (keep in mind that most contractors work across wide regions and are not necessarily restricted to the town listed as their location). Records for each individual will list their address information, training history, and indicate whether they hold a current Pro Logger Status – look for the Texas Pro Logger seal.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Society of American Foresters Technical Symposium:

"Examining the Effects of Responsible Forest Management on Watershed Health"

The Society of American Foresters in collaboration with the Environmental Law Institute, American Forest Foundation, US Forest Service, National Alliance of Forest Owners, Plum Creek, and Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association hosted a Technical Symposium entitled “Examining the Effects of Responsible Forest Management on Watershed Health” on February 17th, 2012 in Washington D.C. The Keynote Speaker for the event was The Honorable Benjamin H. Grumbles, President of the Clean Water America Alliance and former Assistant Administrator for Water at the Environmental Protection Agency. The symposium featured three panels: Administrative/Regulatory, Legal, and Scientific. 

Videos of the panel discussions, as well as the Keynote address are available on the SAF Policy Website. The speakers for each panel and accompanying PowerPoint presentations can be viewed below each video of the event.

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 2012 BMP Q&A

By: Todd Thomas, Water Resources Forester, Texas Forest Service

Q: Although it does not happen very often, occasionally I will come across a landowner who is not interested in leaving any sort of SMZs on their property. Next time I encounter this sort of situation, how should I handle it?

A: The best way to deal with this is to be informed of all of the benefits provided by SMZs. The first and foremost function of an SMZ is to protect water quality. SMZs protect water quality in four primary ways. The first is to slow down runoff from the surrounding area. By slowing down runoff, the potential for erosion next to the stream has been greatly reduced. The second is holding the soil adjacent to the stream in place; the roots of the vegetation that encompasses the SMZ do a tremendous job of this. The third is thermal protection. The shade provided by the SMZ helps to maintain the pH and the amount of oxygen in the water, maintaining the health of aquatic plants and animals. The fourth way that comes to mind is interception. SMZs intercept rainfall and drastically reduce the amount of sediment that can be displaced as a result of raindrops hitting bare soil directly. Remember, if we want clean water it only makes sense to protect it at its source.

If providing them with information on how SMZs protect water quality is not enough, provide them with some information on how SMZs benefit wildlife. It seems that most private landowners enjoy the wildlife on their property in some capacity and giving them this information could potentially change their mind. Any hunter knows that when you are in a clearcut, one of the best places to hunt is right along an SMZ, no matter what your quarry. One way that SMZs benefit wildlife is by providing edge. In a clearcut, edge is the area adjacent to the boundaries of the clearcut and the area around the SMZ. In these areas, the amount of vegetation that provide food for the wildlife is tremendous due to the amount of sunlight that previously was not reaching the area as well as an increased availability of nutrients and water. SMZs also provide travel corridors for wildlife. Since the SMZ is not as exposed as the rest of the clearcut, wildlife such as deer prefer to use it for travel due to less exposure. Many animals also use SMZs as nesting, den, and bedding sites; also a result of decreased exposure.

If they still are not convinced, remind them that according to Texas Forestry BMPs, SMZs can be thinned as long as they are not thinned so that the basal area gets below 50 square feet per acre. This allows a logger to remove the commercially viable timber while still maintaining the integrity of the SMZ. Basically, this land is not totally taken out of production, just managed in a fashion that protects water quality.

SMZs are an integral part of our best management practices and there is no good reason for removing them. Next time a landowner asks you to cut through an SMZ, remind them of all of the benefits provided by SMZs and what they will be missing out on. Remember, to send any questions you have about BMPs my way and I will be more than happy to answer them. You can reach me by e-mail at tthomas@tfs.tamu.edu or by phone at 936-639-8180. 

*This article was published in the June 2012 issue of the Texas Logger

Friday, June 15, 2012

Photo Challenge: What's Wrong with This Picture?

Stream crossings are critical areas for Best Management Practices (BMPs) because they involve bare dirt roads subjected to vehicle traffic crossing directly over stream channels. BMPs help to protect the quality of the water and the integrity of the channel while providing access across the stream. The picture below shows an attempt to implement BMPs at a stream crossing (SMZ running through the center of the picture), but incorrectly.

Can you tell what is wrong with this picture? How would you have done this differently?

Click on "comments" below and post your answers.

(click on the picture for a larger view)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tailgate Sessions Offered to Loggers

Texas Forest Service, in cooperation with the Texas Logging Council, recently piloted a new BMP training opportunity for logging contractors. The newly established “logger tailgate sessions” deliver concise, focused, onsite BMP training to loggers during active operations. Lunch is sponsored for the participating crews and attendees qualify for one (1) hour of continuing education credit towards the Professional Logger Certification program. So far, these sessions have been conducted for several Temple-Inland contractors.

“We feel this new training program will be extremely beneficial to Texas loggers. Not only does it provide a refresher of the BMPs, it enables attendees to ask specific questions regarding the situations they face on a daily basis. It also allows us to reach the entire crew with this message, not just the contractor or foreman” said Hughes Simpson, Water Resources Program Coordinator.

For more information on these tailgate sessions, or to schedule one for your crew, please call the Texas Forest Service at 936-639-8180.