These are voluntary forestry practice recommendations to keep the environment in the best condition possible, specifically to protect clean water during forestry operations. It is stated best management practices are “common sense, economical practices to keep waterways swimmable, fishable and drinkable.” These will vary by state, so be sure to check with your state’s forestry commission/department to get specifics that would apply for you. Overall, the best management practices (BMPs) will cover some of the tips mentioned above, such as trash removal and rutting, but also includes protective measures to put in place around different stream systems, lakes and ponds, floodplains and wetlands, canals and ditches, and even how to construct roads (permanent and temporary road systems).
Because BMPs can vary from state-to-state I will not give specific examples of what to look for to determine BMPs are being followed (in this article), but will emphasize to have a line item in your contract stating all of your state’s best management practices will be followed. As a landowner, it IS important for you to understand what BMPs are applicable for your site within your state, because in the end, any erosion and pollution caused into waterways is your responsibility. Also before the logging job is started, talk with your forester about which BMPs may be applicable for your land – what those BMPs should look like – this way you will have reasonable expectations for the end result. In some states BMPs recommend leaving trees along stream banks and sometimes a particular “width” on both sides of the stream bank… if you did not realize you had a “stream” (perhaps its an intermittent or ephemeral drainage you didn’t know you had on your land), seeing the left trees unharvested may lead you to believe that “merchantable timber” has been left (as stated above in tip #2) rather than best management practices being followed.
Harvesting your land, especially for the first time, is an exciting time and opportunity - but can come with unexpected emotions at the end of the operation. It is important to have all your questions answered by your consultant and local foresters before you start logging, as well as having everything covered in a written contract. Although in many locations a verbal contract can be “legally binding” … if a violation occurs to the agreed upon operation or expectations are not met, it will become a “he said – she said” suit and difficult to enforce any rehab work that may be needed for poor service.
I will always believe most loggers and foresters are ethical men and women who want to do right for their job AND the environment (because lets face it, if they don’t…they’re putting THEMSELVES out of a job… and no one really wants to do that, even if that is their only motivation).
BUT as the landowner- it is YOUR land that you have invested 10-15-20-30+ years of your life into for this moment. Be sure it is done correctly… but also be sure your expectations are correct AND emotions are ready for the job.