Best Management Practices
South Carolina forest lands are a source of scenic beauty, pure water, wildlife habitat, recreation, and timber. To help protect these qualities, Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been developed. BMPs are recommended forestry practices that help minimize the impact on water quality, reduce soil erosion, and protect streamside areas.
BMPs are non-regulatory program with extensive monitoring, education, and inspection efforts to protect water quality. Technical assistance is available to private landowners, loggers, and industry to implement BMPs, training and education programs are offered on a regular basis, and compliance monitoring of timber harvesting and site preparation operations are ongoing. The SC Forestry Commission uses airplanes to spot potential water quality problems, and industry may refuse to accept wood if BMPs are not followed. In addition, the South Carolina Water Pollution Control Act and other laws apply if water quality is impaired.
Recent monitoring reveals that statewide BMP compliance in South Carolina is 92%. Use and knowledge of BMPs has gone up every year since the beginning of the program in 1976.
Visit the complete on-line BMP Manual at the South Carolina Forestry Commission (www.state.sc.us/forest/refbmp.htm).
Some highlights from SC BMPs for Forestry:
Streamside Management Zones
Streams need special protection, and Streamside Management Zones (SMZs) filter out pollutants and provide benefits to wildlife.
- Maintain SMZs along banks of streams and other water bodies
- Increase the width of SMZs as slope increases
- Don't apply pesticides or fertilizers within 80 feet of each side of a stream
- Locate landings and skid trails outside SMZs
- Stop logging on excessively wet sites
- Avoid mechanical site preparation in streamside zones
- Avoid wheeled or tracked vehicles in zones closest to streams
- Don't construct roads within SMZs except at planned crossings
- Service equipment away from streams and other water bodies; properly dispose of lubricants
- Don't leave tree tops in streams
Harvesting operations should be carefully planned and executed with the intent of protecting the site.
- Keep decks and skid trails to a minimum
- Keep mud off roads
- Locate landings and skid trails to minimize soil movement into streams
- Fell trees in line with skidding direction where topography, safety, and other conditions permit
- Keep public roads safe and open to traffic
- Use topographic maps and aerial photographs to plan locations of decks and skid trails
- Limit operations on steep grades
- Cross stream channels and streamside areas only when necessary
- Don't leave trash on the site or logging debris in roads or ditches
- Seed in vegetation on decks and skid trails
Road Building BMPs
Roads and trails are necessary to provide access for forest management, timber harvesting, protection, and recreational use.
- Use topographic maps and aerial photographs when possible to plan roads
- Plan and lay out roads in advance of harvesting
- Locate roads on side slopes so there is minimal site disturbance
- Keep stream crossings to a minimum and at right angles
- Never block streams; use culverts or bridges to maintain stream flow
- Use soil survey information to select stable soil types to minimize erosion
- Avoid steep, narrow ridges, slide areas, gullies, marshes, stream channels, and ponds whenever possible
- Use broad-based dips, water bars, and turnouts to remove surface water from roads
- Maintain water bars and seed in vegetative cover
Site Preparation and Reforestation
Site preparation is necessary on some sites to assure survival and growth of seedlings.
- Make every effort to leave topsoil in place
- If minor drainage ditches are needed, construct them prior to any reforestation effort
- Windrow debris along the contour or in gullies or skid roads to stabilize them
- Disk along the contour of the landscape to prevent erosion
- When disking, plowing, or bedding, leave occasional undisturbed strips along the contours