NASF releases latest report on forestry BMPs and their use nationwide

States have been evaluating, testing, and revising their forestry BMP guidelines since the 1970s, steadily improving the efficacy of these standards for protecting water quality before, during, and after silvicultural activities take place.

WASHINGTON—The National Association for State Foresters has released the latest report on forestry best management practices (BMPs) for water quality. Among other important findings, the report relays that nationally, forestry BMPs are implemented when and where they are needed 92 percent of the time; providing strong evidence in support of the existing silvicultural exemption to Clean Water Act permitting requirements.

State forestry agencies play a critical role in ensuring that forests—and the water resources they provide—are protected and properly managed. As leaders in the development, promotion, and evaluation of forestry BMPs, state forestry agencies help ensure water quality is protected before, during, and after forest management work takes place.

“To ensure water quality is protected and soil stays in place, all states have developed BMPs for timber harvesting and forest management operations,” said Greg Josten, NASF president and South Dakota state forester. “BMPs ensure that the equipment used in silvicultural activities like forest thinnings don’t inadvertently push sediment into nearby waterways or contribute to stream bank erosion. Other BMPs protect, and even enhance, wildlife habitat. On the whole, BMPs are tremendously valuable tools that have proven to be both cost-effective and practical.”

Due in equal parts to the successful establishment and monitoring of BMPs at the state level, the tremendous water quality benefits healthy forests provide (including filtering more than 50 percent of the nation’s drinking water), and the relatively low impact of forest management activities on water quality, Congress exempted normal forest management practices from Clean Water Act permitting requirements. Additionally, there are no federal laws requiring specific BMPs, so while many states have similar BMPs, no two states have the same set of standards.

“The collective success of state forestry agency BMP programs is predicated on the states’ flexibility to design BMP programs that work for their unique forests. For this success to continue given increased demand for state forestry agency services, additional support for state forestry water resources programs is needed,” said Joe Fox, NASF vice president, NASF Forest Resources Management Committee chair, and Arkansas state forester. “Right now, more people depend on our nation’s water supply than ever before. Encouraging loggers and other forest practitioners to use BMPs will go a long way in ensuring cleaner and more plentiful water resources for generations to come.”

State forestry agency BMPs cover activities on nearly 500 million acres of state and private forestland. To learn more about your state’s BMPs, visit www.stateforesters.org and click on any of the site’s interactive maps. On each state’s webpage, you’ll find BMP information and other resources, such as Forest Action Plans.

Contact: Whitney Forman-Cook, NASF Communications Director at (202) 624-5417 and wforman-cook@stateforesters.org