Effectiveness of State Developed and Implemented Forestry Best Management Practices in the United States

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Virginia Tech


The passage of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 required states to develop forestry BMPs to help reduce potential nonpoint source pollution from forest operations. Properly applied forestry best management practices (BMPs) have since been proven to protect water quality from forest operations. This research project reviewed BMP effectiveness studies in the U.S., assessed current state developed and implemented of forestry BMPs, and developed a simple method to estimate potential erosion from forest operations for the Piedmont physiographic region based on previous studies.

Eighty-one BMP effectiveness studies were reviewed. The review of past effectiveness studies indicates that water quality protection is increased when BMPs are implemented correctly. These effectiveness studies provide states with valuable information on how their BMP guidelines are achieving the goals defined by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

Every U.S. state has forestry BMP guidelines. These guidelines may be non-regulatory, quasi-regulatory, or regulatory depending on the state. Twenty states reported implementing non-regulatory BMP guidelines, 19 quasi-regulatory BMP guidelines, and 11 regulatory BMP guidelines. State forestry agencies were reported as being the lead agency responsible for BMP monitoring in 35 states. The national forestry BMP implementation rate was 91% (32 states). However, states did report deficiencies for specific BMP guideline categories. Supplementary to the reviewed BMP effectiveness studies, forest erosion studies in the southeastern U.S. that quantified erosion rates from forest operations were also reviewed. Erosion rates obtained from the literature were reviewed by operation categories (timber harvesting, forest roads, skid trails, log landings, stream crossings, and streamside management zones) and physiographic region (Mountains, Piedmont, Gulf Coastal Plain, and Atlantic Coastal Plain). There were numerous research gaps regarding erosion rates from forest operations for all the regions except the Piedmont region. The Piedmont region was selected for developing a method to estimate potential erosion from forest operations. This erosion estimation method is a quick and potentially useful tool for estimating potential erosion; however, it is based on limited data from the Piedmont region only. The basic method approach might be considered for the other physiographic regions, but further research is needed to fill current knowledge gaps.



Silviculture, forest operations, nonpoint source pollution, BMP effectiveness, BMP implementation, erosion, sedimentation, Water quality