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Water Quality

Over the years, the forest products industry, professional foresters, environmental scientists, loggers and federal and state agencies have developed timber harvesting practices to protect the quality of our streams and wetlands. These practices have come to be known as Best Management Practices (BMPs) and are incorporated into the SFI® Program.

Best Management Practices

BMPs are determined by each state and can vary depending on the topography of the harvest site and other environmental factors. Generally, BMPs are practices that are effective from forestry and environmental standpoints, and that are economical and socially acceptable. The term does not mean the most expensive practice or a practice that might be impractical to implement.

A copy of Virginia's BMP guidelines, Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality, is available at the Virginia Department of Forestry web site.

Examples of BMPs

  • Erosion control measures on roads and skid trails
  • Leaving vegetated buffer strips along streams
  • Guidelines for stream crossings
  • Recommended practices for harvesting and site preparation for reforestation
  • Guidelines for revegetation of bare soil areas

Virginia’s SHARP Loggers are trained to follow BMP guidelines on their harvest sites. Participating SFI Program companies are committed to applying BMPs on their own lands and on lands from which they purchase timber.

BMPs in Virginia

The Virginia Department of Forestry is responsible for promoting the health and productivity of Virginia’s forests and for enforcing the state’s laws regarding forestry and its effect on water quality.

In Virginia, adherence to BMPs is an important means of protecting water quality. But here the emphasis is on results, not on enforcing a rigid set of rules that may not always be appropriate and may not always achieve the desired results. The bottom line in Virginia is that timber harvesting operations are not allowed to pollute the state’s streams.

The Commonwealth of Virginia and the forest products industry work closely to ensure the health and productivity of the state’s forests, to protect water quality and to enhance the many other values offered by forests, such as wildlife habitat, recreation and aesthetics.

Foresters with the Virginia Department of Forestry make regular visits to harvest sites across the state and provide technical assistance to loggers and landowners to ensure compliance with water quality laws.

The emphasis in Virginia is on the prevention of environmental problems, rather than citing violators after the damage is done. However, failure to take corrective action can result in substantial fines and penalties.

Best Management Practices