Logging BMPs Protect Land And Water

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Published on: Aug. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

Every year, Missourians cut, split, peel and saw great quantities of wood from the state's private and public forests. Logs, bolts, blocks and sticks are among the most obvious and tangible of our forest products. It's easy to estimate the dollar value of these products. It comes to millions in raw materials alone.

Manufacturing secondary wood products such as barrels, handles, ties, posts, and pallets contributes millions of dollars more to the state's economy.

A forest is more than trees, though, and forestry is more than just harvesting timber. Along with trees and other plants, forests help produce clean water for drinking, swimming, recreation and other uses. That's why it's important to keep soil in place rather than let it erode into rivers and lakes. We can't afford to give up wood products - nor would we ever want to - but we can reduce erosion and provide for clean water while still harvesting timber. The way to do this is by understanding and applying Missouri's best management practices.

Best management practices, or BMPs, are voluntary measures designed to reduce erosion and runoff from timber harvest operations. They have been developed by individual states in response to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 and the Clean Water Acts of 1977 and 1987. In Missouri, BMPs have been in effect since 1987, when a number of agencies, including the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Department of Natural Resources, developed "Missouri Watershed Protection Practices." Collectively, this is a series of guidelines for maintaining watersheds and protecting streams. These guidelines, published in booklet form by MDC, offer loggers and landowners specifications for putting BMPs to work. The guidelines also appear in the booklet, "Forest Management for Missouri Landowners." Both booklets are available from local MDC offices or the main office in Jefferson City.

Understanding why BMPs are needed and how they work begins with an understanding of soil erosion and its effects. Erosion is a natural process whereby natural, physical forces move particles of rock and soil from one place to another, sometimes far from their place of origin. This process has slowly shaped our landscape over millions of years. The effects of natural erosion can be seen from the rounded hills of the Ozark highlands to sandy and gravelly Mississippi River bottoms. Human activity, however, often accelerates erosion by exposing soil to the effects of wind, water and gravity.

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