Implementation of Forestry Best Management Practices on Biomass and Conventional Harvesting Operations in Virginia
Logging residues are often utilized as a Best Management Practice (BMP) for stabilizing bare soil on forest harvesting operations. As utilization of woody biomass increases, concern has developed regarding availability of residues for implementing BMPs. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) inspects all logging operations in Virginia and randomly selects a portion of harvests for more intensive audits. The VDOF BMP audit process intensively evaluates implementation of BMPs in seven categories (84 specific BMPs) on 240 sites per year. This research analyzed three years of audit data (2010–2012) to quantify differences in BMP implementation between biomass and conventional harvesting operations. Among 720 audited tracts, 97 were biomass harvests, with 88 occurring in the Piedmont region. Only the streamside management zone (SMZ) category had significant implementation percentage differences between biomass (83.1%) and conventional harvests (91.4%) (p = 0.0007) in the Piedmont. Specific areas where biomass harvesting operations had lower implementation were generally not related to a lack of residues available for implementing BMPs, but rather were from a lack of appropriate SMZs, overharvesting within SMZs, or inadequate construction of roads, skid trails, and stream crossings. Existing BMP recommendations already address these areas and better implementation would have negated these issues.