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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Texas (Section 319I - 1994)

Texas has been successful in implementing best management practices to address nonpoint source pollution from forestry activities through voluntary participation of local foresters, landowners, and silvicultural contractors. Educational efforts have reached 20,000 persons, evaluations have shown an 88 percent BMP implementation compliance rate, and BMPs have reduced stream sedimentation by 40 percent. Texas needs a sustained and expanded commitment to support the implementation of the voluntary forestry BMP program.

Voluntary Silviculture BMPs Mark Successful Beginnings

Texas has made a successful start in encouraging the widespread adoption of voluntary forestry BMPs through a cooperative effort--the Texas Silvicultural Nonpoint Source Project--funded by section 319 and state matching funds.

The project has six objectives:

  • Educate the forestry community using a variety of media;
  • Integrate BMPs into all relevant state forestry management programs;
  • Demonstrate various BMPs using two demonstration areas developed as educational tools;
  • Foster cooperation between agencies and the forestry community for a coordinated, effective program;
  • Evaluate the program and revise as needed; and
  • Monitor BMP compliance and effectiveness through on-site inspections of silvicultural activities.

The Texas Forest Service coordinated the project, designed to reduce nonpoint source water pollution from - forestry activities by encouraging widespread adoption of voluntary silvicultural BMPs, working in cooperation with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the Texas Water Commission. The project was completed between December 1990 and August 1992 and was funded by an FY 1990 section 319 grant totaling $218,000, including $130,000 in federal funds and $88,000 in state matching funds.

Educational efforts reached some 20,000 landowners, foresters, loggers, silvicultural contractors, and the general public:

  • Two radio interviews and one television appearance reached some 7,000 individuals;
  • Print coverage included four articles in the Texas Forestry monthly newspaper (2,500 circulation), one article in the quarterly magazine Texas Trees (10,000 circulation), and a general news release;
  • About 4,700 copies of a silvicultural BMP handbook were distributed to landowners, foresters, and loggers through the joint efforts of the Texas Forest Service and the Texas Forestry Association, forest projects companies, and forestry consultants;
  • More than 1,100 individuals from a variety of audiences, including 21 county forest landowner associations, attended 43 meetings and workshops, many of which included field tours demonstrating BMP installations;
  • Some 2,000 individuals saw BMP exhibits and presentations at three special events; and
  • Approximately 1,500 loggers, truckers, and other silvicultural contractors received a series of six educational flyers, through the cooperation of 10 forest products companies.

BMP demonstration areas on the Jones State Forest near Conroe and the Fairchild State Forest in Cherokee County exhibited 30 practices at 18 stops. These areas have been used for numerous tours by county forest landowner associations and industry groups. Practices include erosion remediation along roads, skid trails, and fire lines; streamside management zones; and installation of wing ditches, water bars, broad-based dips, and open top box and steel cross drain culverts. Practices also include using geotextile low water crossings and culvert stream crossings and revegetating roads and skid trails.

The project included developing a BMP compliance monitoring system and inspecting 162 silvicultural sites. Of those inspected, 88 percent received a compliance rate of fair or better. BMP compliance correlated positively with landowner and contractor knowledge, ownership, and forester involvement.

When implemented properly, BMPs minimized nonpoint source pollution. However, BMP guidelines for streamside management zones (SMZs) and fire lines needed revising. Monitoring found that SMZs were needed to protect intermittent streams, many of which have deep channels and are susceptible to erosion. Also, increased attention was needed to prevent erosion in fire lines. These recommendations were incorporated into a comprehensive revision of the silvicultural BMP guidelines, printed by the Texas Forestry Association.

An analysis of predicted forest land erosion and sedimentation, based on the Universal Soil Loss Equation, was conducted to estimate the overall improvement in water quality as a result of BMP implementation. The analysis concluded that under current BMP compliance levels, stream sedimentation has been reduced by 40 percent, when compared to a "no BMP" scenario. These encouraging results point out the need for a sustained, cooperative educational effort to reach the 150,000 nonindustrial private landowners, professional foresters, loggers, and contractors who will ultimately determine the effectiveness of the voluntary BMP program. This effort will be supported by additional cycles of compliance monitoring to document continued improvement and focus attention on reducing nonpoint source pollution.


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