SCFC Protects Water Quality by Offering BMP Courtesy Exams

Staff Report

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

The South Carolina Forestry Commission is charged with overseeing Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) across the state, among many other responsibilities. Forestry BMPs are a set of guidelines designed primarily to protect water quality while forest operations such as logging, road construction and site preparation are being performed.

One of the agency's most effective tools for monitoring compliance with these guidelines is conducting BMP courtesy exams, which consist of a series of checklists, measurements and observations designed to assess the impact of forest operations on water quality. Offered to timber harvesters and other contractors who perform forestry activities, the exams are free and intended both to educate the contractors and prevent possible BMP violations. BMP Foresters are located in every region of the state to promptly respond to requests for assistance and offer guidance.
 
Although the state's BMPs are non-regulatory, they are designed to help landowners, loggers and forestry professionals prevent violations of the Clean Water Act, the South Carolina Pollution Control Act and other laws and regulations applicable to forestry. In fact, Forestry Commission data show that over the last 12 months, water quality was protected on 100 percent of timber harvesting operations for which a BMP courtesy exam was conducted. 
 

South Carolina's BMPs for Forestry have been endorsed by and received national recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has also cited South Carolina's BMP program as a national model.

By the numbers

In the past year, BMP foresters have been very busy. They have made more than 560 site visits to 360 different sites and provided 187 courtesy exams to loggers throughout the state. In addition, BMP foresters have provided nearly 17 hours of BMP instruction to more than 230 foresters, loggers and landowners.  On the sites where a courtesy exam was conducted, BMPs protected more than 30 miles of perennial, intermittent, and ephemeral streams on more than 6700 acres of forestland.