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BMP manual revision completed; out in 2023

More than a century ago, forestry was a lot different. Many of the old-growth forests were overharvested, leaving open fields with few trees remaining. Then, in 1947, the Louisiana Forestry Association began its efforts to promote reforestation where forests had been clearcut and sustainability once those trees had grown large enough to harvest.

Throughout the decades since, the LFA has promoted sustainable forestry, becoming associated with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and developing guidelines for how professional foresters and loggers could best harvest trees while keeping water clean and preserving the environment. These self-regulating guidelines became known as Best Management Practices (BMPs).

BMPs were developed and put in a manual for all professional loggers and foresters to follow. It was not, however, just for them. These guidelines would give mills assurances that wood harvested was done so with the water and environment in mind, performed in a way that would ensure Louisiana has wood for the future. Landowners also were given expectations of how their trees would be harvested and what their land would look like following a harvest, as well as guidelines for replanting trees for the future.

The first BMP manual was published by the LFA in 2000. It was developed through a combined effort of foresters, soil scientists and engineers. The manual became an educational tool for managing these valuable resources, with an eye on healthy forests in Louisiana.

Fifteen years after the first BMP manual came out, foresters and scientists came together again to make revisions to keep the non-regulatory guidebook up to date.

Three years ago, a special volunteer committee of forestry professionals began the journey to review and offer possible revisions that would make the BMP manual more modern.

We reviewed BMP manuals from neighboring states and others throughout the southeast United States. We gave consideration to the practices that made sense in Louisiana’s terrain and with the state’s history.

The majority of the BMPs remain intact, giving credence to those professionals who came before us had laid the foundation for the efforts to keep Louisiana’s natural resources healthy. Officials from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, who reviewed the previous BMP manuals, considered the changes made and have given their blessings on the newly revised manual.

“While I understand that creating a document that satisfies the interests of all entities is a very difficult task, I believe the proposed BMP manual update to be in the best interest of Louisiana forestry and those associated with the industry,” wrote Louisiana State Forester Wade Dubea.

“LDEQ NPS participated in the creation of the original forestry BMP manual to promote practices that mitigate nonpoint runoff from silviculture, and supports the 2022 update to the ‘Recommended Forestry Best Management Practices for Louisiana,’ ” wrote Crisalda Adams, NPS Pollution Control & Aquifer Evaluation and Protection Section manager.

Mr. Dubea is correct in his assessment that you can’t please everyone, but we are confident that the result of this updated and improved BMP manual and will benefit Louisiana forests for years to come.

(Tim Hahn is the SFI State Implementation Committee chairman with the Louisiana Forestry Association.)


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