Georgia's Revised Best Management Practices for Forestry
Scientific studies have shown that when properly applied, Best Management Practices provide adequate water quality protection. The Georgia Forestry Best Management Practices have been revised based on new science and best available technologies. A select group of experts representing various interests including foresters, landowners, fish and wildlife biologists, soil and water conservationists, environmental advocates, and loggers was convened in February 1997 to revise the original 1981 BMPs and the 1989 wetland BMPs. The revised BMPs are combined into one comprehensive document. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) approved the process. In December 1998, the manual was completed and went into effect January 1, 1999. Important highlights of the revisions include a pre-planning section that defines "waters of the state" that must be protected. Recommendations for landowners, timber buyers, and other managers to use soil maps and topographic maps to identify these "waters" before the practice begins is emphasized. Widths of streamside management zones (SMZs) or buffers next to perennial and intermittent streams have increased. Perhaps the most significant revision is that clear cutting is no longer recommended within these buffers. A clarification of various legal and regulatory requirements is also provided. A publication and communications plan is in place to advise the public and other stakeholders of these revisions.