New Hampshire Best Management Practices for Erosion Control on Timber Harvesting Operations

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New Hampshire is the second-most forested state in the country, with forests covering approximately 84% of the state. These forests play an important role in the water cycle, contributing to the high quality of water found in New Hampshire’s lakes, streams and wetlands. The term “water quality” is more than water clarity. Water quality encompasses the chemical, physical, and biological properties of water in lakes, streams and wetlands. The purpose of this publication is to serve as a reference to help foresters and loggers become better informed about the best management practices for reducing soil erosion and controlling sedimentation before, during and after timber harvesting operations. When using this publication, it is important to remember that for every situation encountered, there may be more than one correct method to prevent or minimize erosion and sedimentation.

What This Handbook Is

This handbook describes Best Management Practices, or BMPs, for protecting water quality during forest harvests. The BMPs include a wide range of recommended techniques that can be used before, during, and after logging operations. Loggers, foresters, and scientists from New Hampshire and other states have developed these techniques from their own practical experience and research.

This handbook is for woodlot owners, loggers, foresters, and others involved in harvest operations. The handbook will help you understand, identify, design, and implement water quality protection measures while meeting other harvest objectives.

This book will help you to:

  • Understand how BMPs work. It is more effective, cheaper, and easier to prevent pollution than to fix problems after they occur. When you understand the principles behind BMP techniques, you will be able to anticipate and prevent problems before they end up costing you time and money.

  • Decide which BMPs to use. Harvest sites can vary significantly, and different techniques are appropriate to different sites. By applying BMP principles, you will be able to use your own judgment and this handbook to select the most appropriate and effective BMPs for a particular site.

What This Handbook Is Not 

BMPs may not be the same as regulations. Best Management Practices are procedures that, when used appropriately, will result in the greatest protection of the environment over the course of the operation.

Regulations describe required, minimally acceptable practices. BMPs are mandatory in some situations; others may be voluntary, depending on the site. If the forestry management or harvesting activities involve impacts to wetlands or surface waters (by traveling across them), BMPs are mandatory and a NH DES Forestry Notification may be required.

This handbook focuses on water quality BMPs. There are BMPs that protect wildlife habitat, soil integrity and productivity, aesthetics, and other aspects of the forests. Although these values are important, they are not the primary focus of this manual.

How to Use This Handbook

The BMP manual is most effective when used as a resource for planning a timber harvest. It provides information about why water quality is important and how to protect it. In addition, the BMP manual provides tips and techniques that assist land managers with low-cost and effective methods for protecting water quality while constructing roads, landings, skid trails and stream and wetland crossings. If you are new to BMPs, it is best to read the publication all the way through to get a sense of the content, layout, glossary and other resources available.

Download the Resource for the complete handbook and a printable version.


Extension Field Specialist, Forestry
Phone: 603-787-6944
Office: Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824