Montana's Forestry Best Management Practices Program: 20 Years of Continuous Improvement
Under the federal Clean Water Act, states have developed nonpoint source control programs for forestry that range from voluntary to regulatory approaches. Nationally, management of runoff from forest roads is currently under scrutiny by courts, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and Congress. This article describes Montana's “blended” program of voluntary forestry best management practices (BMP) for roads and upland practices, and a Streamside Management Zone Act, which regulates operations near streams. Biennial audits over the past 20 years have shown continuous improvement, with BMP implementation rates increasing from 78% in 1990 to 97% in 2010. Observed water quality impacts have declined from an average of eight per harvest site in 1990 to less than one in 2010. Activities and culture that have promoted an effective program include regular compliance monitoring, customized landowner and logger education programs, strong buy-in from the forestry community, and program coordination by a statewide stakeholder group.
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