BMPs / Forests and Water / Blog
Approximately 14.4 million acres of forested lands in Texas are suitable for the production of timber. Forest operations associated with harvesting and regeneration can potentially generate nonpoint source (NPS) pollution that degrades water quality if done improperly. Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) are the principal means of controlling NPS pollution during forestry activities.
Forestry BMPs are voluntary conservation practices that help protect your soil and water resources, two key elements necessary for growing a healthy, sustainable, and productive forest. They are designed to provide an economical means of preventing or minimizing sediments and other nonpoint source pollutants on managed forest lands from entering adjacent water bodies. BMPs can include methods such as leaving a buffer zone of trees next to a stream, installing a culvert to cross a waterway, or establishing grass on forest roads to prevent erosion.
In 1989, Texas A&M Forest Service established the BMP program to focus on minimizing any threats to water quality from forestry activities. The program educates landowners, loggers and foresters about the threats to water quality and provides technical assistance on how to minimize those threats through the use of non-regulatory forestry BMPs.
Texas A&M Forest Service, with cooperation from the forestry community, monitors the implementation of these guidelines by evaluating randomly selected forest operations every three years. Compliance with Texas’ voluntary forestry BMPs has steadily risen to 94 percent, according to a 2011 survey by Texas A&M Forest Service.
Computer models have estimated that over the past 20 years, BMPs have prevented over 100,000 tons of soil per year from eroding off East Texas forests; enough to cover a football field, end zone to end zone, 35 feet deep. Each year, these practices keep over 12,000 tons of soil out of our lakes and reservoirs.
Texas A&M Forest Service completed a study in 2007 designed to measure the overall effectiveness of BMPs in Texas. The results of the study demonstrated the benefits of BMP use and concluded that BMPs, when implemented properly, are effective in protecting water quality and aquatic wildlife.