Alabama's Best Management Practices for Forestry

Stream PhotoWater Quality Management in Alabama
The Alabama Environmental Management Act authorizes the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to establish and enforce water quality standards, regulations and penalties in order to carry out the provisions of state and federal water quality laws. From that authorization, ADEM Administrative Code prohibits the deposition of pollutants into or the degradation of the physical, chemical, or biological integrity of waters of the state. (see the BMP Manual glossary for definitions).  With regard to silviculture, nonpoint source pollutants include, but are not limited to, sediment, organic materials, temperature, trash, pesticides and nutrients (see glossary for definitions and impacts) that are man induced.

In addition, the Alabama Water Pollution Control Act states that ADEM shall have the authority to propose remedial measures necessary to clean up waters that have been determined to be polluted. ADEM advocates, however, that avoiding environmental problems through voluntary application of preventative techniques is much less expensive, more cost effective and practical than restoration after the fact.

The Alabama Forestry Commission’s Role in Best Management Practices
The Alabama Forestry Commission was established and is mandated by Code of Alabama, 1975, Section 9-3-4 (1), to protect, conserve, and increase the timber and forest resources of the state. All citizens of Alabama
are our valued customers. However, as the lead agency for forestry in the state, we seek to strike a balance
between serving Alabama forest owners’ needs and enhancing the benefits flowing to society from their
forests. Our mission is to promote environmentally and economically sound forestry practices, and we
are committed to optimizing available resources to achieve this mission.

The Alabama Forestry Commission is not an environmental regulatory or enforcement agency, but it does
accept the responsibility to maintain and update Alabama’s Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Forestry whenever necessary to help Alabama’s forestry community meet state water quality needs. The Commission will work in a cooperative manner with all state and federal agencies concerned, and is determined to utilize technical
expertise from within and without the forestry community in any BMP revision process.

The Alabama Forestry Commission also accepts responsibility to provide education and technical assistance to landowners, loggers, foresters, vendors and the general public to ensure that good stewardship principles are understood and used.BMP Publication Cover

Purpose of Best Management Practices

Alabama’s Best Management Practices for Forestry are non-regulatory guidelines (except for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s baseline BMPs on pages 16 and 17 which are mandatory) suggested to help Alabama’s forestry community maintain and protect the physical, chemical and biological integrity of waters of the state as required by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the Alabama Water Pollution Control Act, the Clean Water Act,
the Water Quality Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act.

The BMPs booklet lays out a framework of sound stewardship practices that, when consistently applied, will contribute positively to maintaining a high degree of water quality flowing from a forest. These BMPs are not intended to be all inclusive. Rational and objective on-site judgment must be applied to ensure that water quality standards are maintained.

The most important guidance that these BMPs can offer the forestry community is to think and plan before you act. Adequate forethought will pay off in two ways: to avoid unnecessary site disturbance or damage in the first place and to minimize the expense of stabilizing or restoring unavoidable disturbances when the operation is finished.

Following sound stewardship principles in carrying out forestry practices will ensure that our forests continue to meet the needs of their owners, provide jobs, forest products, clean water and a healthy environment without costly regulations. Only through sound stewardship principles will all of these needs be met.


Responsibility for maintaining water quality standards during a forestry operation has been broadly interpreted to include all parties involved in the authorization, planning or implementation of the operation. The responsible parties may include professional forestry practitioner(s) such as forest resource managers, timber purchasers, loggers,
vendors, forest engineers or others. Due to this inherent responsibility it is in the best interest of all those involved in silvicultural operations to make every effort to prevent and correct violations of state and federal water quality laws,
regulations and standards by consistently implementing BMPs.

Additional Resources:

Best Management Practices Manual | Random BMP Monitoring

Additional Information:

A Guide for Forest Access Road Construction and Maintenance in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

The title of this Guide is a little misleading. Although it was originally developed for road construction is Southern Appalachian Mountains the general principals and guidelines set forth in the manual can be and should be applied to all forest road construction. Roads in steeper terrain are more difficult to construct while the degree of difficulty on flatter terrain roads is less, they have a lot in common. This book is a good guide that addresses subjects to be considered in all road construction:

Pre-Construction Planning | Design Guidelines | Surface Drainage | Stream Crossings | Laying out of the Road Getting Ready for Construction | Constructing the Road | Establishing Groundcover | Maintaining Your Road

ACES's Alabama State Water Program
Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM)
Center for Watershed Protection
Clean Water Partnership
Environmental Planning for Small Communities
Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Organization Web Directory
Local Government Environmental Assistance Network
National Small Flows Clearinghouse
National Watershed Library
River Network
Southern Group of State Foresters Water Committee
Southern Watershed Forum