Water Quality BMPs on Forest Lands
Chemung County, NY

Grantee: Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $13,000
Non-federal Funds: $11,344
Project Duration: 06/1996 - 08/1997
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Without proper guidance on the use and implementation of best management practices (BMPs), local ordinances to regulate timber harvesting fall short on minimizing off-site damages to streams, fish, wildlife habitat, and other water bodies.

Best Management Practices workbook.

According to a statistic prepared by the U.S. Forest Service, 62% or 18.6 million acres of New York's land area in 1993 was forested. Timber harvesting, if managed properly, can have long-term benefits to wildlife, water resources, and recreational opportunities. However, timber harvesting is also a disruptive affair even under the best of circumstances. If not planned and implemented properly, the four major elements of logging—truck roads, skid trails, landings, and tree falling—can have major negative impacts on forest and water resources. According to U.S. Forest Service research, improperly installed skid trails can result in excess of 800 tons of soil being eroded per acre each year.

In the late 1970s, Chemung County, New York witnessed firsthand the direct result of improperly installed skid trails and truck roads. In efforts to prevent future problems, many local municipalities enacted ordinances and/or notification requirements to regulate logging. Such ordinances require BMPs to be implemented that will minimize soil erosion and protect water quality. However, these legislative actions are often enforced by personnel with little or no knowledge on how to properly plan and implement BMPs.

To ensure that BMPs for timber harvesting activities are properly planned and implemented, the Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) undertook a two-pronged approach to disseminate information about BMPs on forest lands the Chemung SWCD: 1) prepared a field manual pertaining to forestry titled Best Management Practices During Timber Harvesting Operations; and 2) developed and published an informational pamphlet called Do You Own Forest Land? for private landowners.

Information for these products was obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Local ordinances from towns in Chemung County were also collected.

The manual was reviewed by a technical committee that included representatives from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. The completed manual consists of a full-color laminated cover and approximately 40 pages of text, photographs, and illustrations. The manual includes sections on nonpoint source pollution, timber harvesting, forest roads and skid trails, stream-side management zones, freshwater wetlands and permit requirements, stream crossing structures and permit requirements, soil stabilization, financial and technical assistance, and best management practices as well as a glossary of terms. Several reference appendices are also included containing information on technical assistance sources, regulations, and financial assistance opportunities.

The pamphlet is a tri-folded 8 by 11-inch sheet with information about owning forest land printed on both sides. The pamphlet includes a matrix to assist landowners in finding the appropriate sources of assistance for commercial logging, timber stand improvement, erosion control, education, tree planting, financial assistance, and stream permits.

A total of 2,500 copies of the pamphlet were printed.

Contact: Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation District, (607) 739-3009


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