Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) are voluntary silvicultural practices designed to control non-point sources of water pollution. In general, BMPs are applied as a system of practices, rather than a single practice. These BMPs apply to all forest management activities, including product harvests, fuels mitigation projects and forest health treatments.
Forestry BMPs are designed to conform to the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972. BMPs are a series of water quality-driven practices developed over the years with cooperation from federal, state and local agencies, industry groups, private landowners, and logging and forestry contractors. The Society of American Foresters Dictionary of Forestry (1998) defines BMPs as “determined by each state to be the most effective and practicable means of controlling point and nonpoint source pollution at levels compatible with environmental quality goals.”
Beginning in 2008, the Colorado State Forest Service began to monitor the application and effectiveness of forestry BMPs in Colorado. A State audit steering committee and audit team was formed, with the intent of an ongoing program of audits in Colorado at least biennially. The main objectives for each audit are to determine if the applicable forest practices are being applied, and their effectiveness. The audits are not intended to target the entity responsible for forest management actions, but to help better understand if current BMP guidelines and education are sufficient.
During the field audit, one practice site and six actual audit sites are visited. Due to the nature of Colorado’s terrain, specific regions are selected within which to conduct audits, for logistical purposes, in order to be able to complete the audit within a week’s time. Site nominations are sought from federal, private and state sources beginning in the spring prior to the audit. Two sites from each ownership type are then selected based on some basic criteria, including the site’s potential to effect water quality.
Many of the determinations and lessons from the BMP audit are, in turn, directly applied to Colorado’s Master Logger Program (as implemented by the Colorado Timber Industry Association) through continuing education. This education is also incorporated into the Central Rockies Sustainable Forestry Education Program, in order to improve both knowledge and implementation of forest practices regionally in Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming. Recommendations from the BMP audit are used for educational and outreach purposes, and all confidentiality of contractors and/or landowners is maintained through the written audit report.
Colorado Best Management Practices
For more information about BMPs in Colorado, please download the reports below:
- Colorado Forestry Best Management Practices: Forest Stewardship Guidelines for Water Quality Protection, 2012 Field Audit Report
- Colorado Forest Road Field Handbook, 2011
- Forestry Best Management Practices to Protect Water Quality in Colorado, 2010
- Colorado Forestry Best Management Practices 2008 Field Audit Report