South Carolina Forestry Commission
News Release

October 9, 2009

Forestry Commission Harvesting Standards Hold Water with Scientific Community, Independent Study Shows

BMP Forester Tonya Harrington

(Columbia,SC)–Voluntary compliance with The South Carolina Forestry Commission’s Best Management Practices (BMPs) for timber harvesting rose to 98.6 percent, as detailed in the latest monitoring report.  “These results continue to build on a tremendous record of success by the forestry community in our state,” said SCFC Environmental Program Manager Guy Sabin.  BMPs are written primarily to protect water quality and limit soil disturbance during timber removal.

This time, a group of outside experts were invited to evaluate BMP compliance and effectiveness on difficult and borderline harvesting sites.  This review provided a valuable opportunity to consider how potential impacts on water quality are evaluated by specialists in related fields such as aquatic ecology, hydrology, wetland science, and other areas.  The group also included professional loggers, consulting foresters, and representatives from forest industry.  Expertise was drawn from organizations such as US Army Corps of Engineers, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, SC Department of Natural Resources, Clemson University, and others.

The expert review team was in 91.3 percent agreement on overall compliance, confirming that SC Forestry Commission field decisions are consistent with current experts in academic, industry, government, and regulatory organizations.  Results indicate strong consensus among a diverse range of experts that SC Best Management Practices for Forestry effectively protect water quality when properly implemented.

While this is the first study to invite outside experts to participate, it’s actually the eighth study of BMP compliance among harvesters since 1989.  It’s aimed at identifying the most critical practices to emphasize during BMP courtesy exams which the Forestry Commission conducts every day on logging sites across the state.  Stream crossings, Streamside Management Zones, and stabilization of skid trails (for heavy equipment) emerged as the most important areas on which to focus in the future.

In South Carolina, BMPs are voluntary guidelines which ensure requirements of the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws are being met.  It’s felt this non-regulatory approach fosters a better relationship among the government, loggers, and the mills, the vast majority of which demand timber be harvested under our BMP guidelines.

Dr. Tom Williams, forest hydrologist with Clemson University Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, was a co-author of the first SC BMP compliance study in 1991.  After participating on this expert review he wrote, “I was impressed with the strides that have been made since my first review in the early 1990’s.  South Carolina is still a leader in voluntary forestry BMPs.  The combination of trained loggers, Sustainable Forestry Initiative Program (SFI) compliance in mills and the Commission’s BMP Foresters has certainly proved to be highly effective to protect water quality in harvesting operations.”

The report is available on the SCFC website,  Landowners can request a BMP Courtesy Exam by calling (803) 896-8593.



 For more information, call Scott Hawkins at (803) 896-8820 or Guy Sabin at (803) 896-8800



 The SC Forestry Commission’s mission is to protect and develop South Carolina’s forest resource.  For every $1.00 invested by SC in the Commission, the industry produces more than $1,300.00 of economic impact.


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