AUGUSTA — Today, the results of a study on the use and effectiveness of forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) at timber harvests across the state from 2020-2021 were released by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service (MFS). BMPs are voluntary measures used to protect water quality. BMP use and effectiveness at timber harvesting operations are monitored regularly by the Maine Forest Service’s ten District Foresters and Water Resources Specialists. The results of these monitoring efforts are reported biannually.
The following are key findings of this year’s report:
- Sixty-eight percent of sites had BMPs applied appropriately on crossings and approaches, or crossings were avoided. MFS BMPs emphasize planning harvests to avoid crossing streams whenever feasible.
- Eighty-four percent of sites evaluated for sediment input found no sediment entered a waterbody. A significant goal of BMPs is keeping sediment from reaching water bodies.
- Ninety-six percent of sites showed no evidence of chemical spills. Properly securing and storing chemicals is a vital BMP, as is being prepared with a plan and the proper equipment if a spill occurs.
- When applied appropriately, BMPs effectively prevented sedimentation from entering water bodies. Sedimentation events were strongly correlated with inadequate application of BMPs or lack of maintenance of BMPs.
- Ninety-six percent of sample sites had no wetland crossing. Wetlands were avoided, or effective BMPs were used to cross.
The data in the most recent report indicates a slight increase in chances of sedimentation at crossing structures, which were expected due to various factors. For example, keeping soil stable under drought conditions coupled with increased severe rain events has posed unprecedented challenges. In addition, the forest products industry has experienced a substantial turnover of experienced personnel in recent years. Finally, milder winters, resulting in less frozen ground (both area and timing), have also challenged operators.
Anticipating these challenges, MFS and the forestry community have increased their emphasis on BMP training for land managers and woods workers in recent years. In 2019, MFS and partners developed an updated BMP training program that focuses on fundamental BMPs for protecting water quality and has provided BMP training opportunities across the state. In addition to ramping up training efforts on fundamental BMPs, MFS plans to develop additional training programs that focus on BMP techniques to address severe weather events. As with many MFS initiatives, input from partners will be an important part of developing such training programs, and MFS is confident that the forestry community will rise to the challenge.
“On behalf of the Maine Forest Service, I thank Maine’s forestry community for its continued success in protecting Maine’s water resources,” said Maine Forest Service Director Patty Cormier. “There is no doubt that there have been many obstacles for forestry workers, especially over the past few years; not only a pandemic and market disruptions but also erratic weather and workforce challenges. I appreciate all the positive efforts made to protect our water resources. The forestry community takes the use of Best Management Practices seriously. We all need to take care of our natural resources, and this report shows the forestry community has stepped up to the plate to do that.”
The full report is available on the MFS website at:
For more information, please contact MFS Water Resources Specialist, Tom Gilbert at 441-5282 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry