and benefits of best management practices
New York forest owners
own much more than forests. They own the source waters
of creeks and rivers, hundreds of tons of rich organic
soil per acre, trillions of microscopic animals, and
enough biological energy to make any electric producer
envious. These ecological aspects of forests require
proper stewardship and maintenance to continue providing
the many benefits for our communities.
key concepts in managing a hardwood forest are
professional assistance when needed
Forests in New York can reach
an ecologically and economically valuable state with assistance
from responsible forest owners. For three centuries, the
impacts of human activities have made a "hands off"
approach to forests impractical. Doing nothing to a woodlot
may lead to undesirable conditions, like low species diversity,
infestations of unwanted exotic plants, and loss of wildlife
Timber harvesting is the
main way we derive economic benefits from forests. The
basic process of timber harvesting remains the same, despite
centuries of technological development: selected trees are
cut down, humans use equipment to move logs to a gathering
site, then the logs are transported en masse to a mill for
processing. The owner of the trees or timber rights is paid
according to the specific arrangement of each sale.
Northeasterners view timber harvesting suspiciously. The
most important way for timber management to remain compatible
with widely held environmental goals is to engage in "best
management practices" - actions taken to reduce the
impacts of logging on environmental quality. Best management
practices apply to water quality, forest soil quality, forest
site productivity, wildlife habitats, as well
as the overall ecological integrity of New York's forests.
often resembles a construction project. Concerns about water
quality are usually associated with the movement of heavy
logs on the site. However, environmental degradation can
take place anywhere during a timber harvest.
Each timber harvest
is different, so as a landowner, town official, forester,
or logger, you will need to be familiar with best
management practices and how they are applied to different
situations. Your good judgment in the field will pay off
with enhanced water quality protection, improved post-harvest
condition of forest soils, improved regeneration of seedlings
and saplings, improved resistance to storm damage, and sustainable
flow of forest products we all use.
Compared to other human activities
- residential development, farming, road construction, and
mineral extraction - timber harvesting has a relatively
small impact on water quality. However, since most of the
water we share with all other organisms first flows through
forested land, it is an ecologically sensitive area.
Professional and skilled
assistance is an important part of forest stewardship. Once
you determine your long-range plans for a forest, engage
the services of a qualified forester to help make good short-term
decisions. You can also meet with trained volunteers (Master
Forest Owners), attend workshops, read publications, and
review electronic guides (like this one) to shape your forest
This guide lists and explains
more than one hundred best management practices for Finger
Lakes forests. Included are details about best management
- before a timber
- during a timber harvest
- after a timber harvest
- in a non-harvest situation, and
- for forest owners working in their own woodlands
This resource is intended
to supplement two print publications: "Best Management
Practices During Timber Harvesting Operations," created
by the Chemung County Soil and Water Conservation District,
and the "New York Forestry Best Management Practices
Field Guide", created by the NYS Department of Environmental
Sixteen practical benefits
of utilizing forest best management practices:
1. Landowner satisfaction
with all parts of a timber harvest, and enhanced access
to a woodlot for hiking and recreation.
2. Can create information
and resources for future timber sales and sales of forested
3. Increase the efficiency
of woodland resources. Under a good forest plan, woodlot
owners are often able to obtain more income for less timber
removed. They avoid the inefficient methods of diameter
limit cutting or high grading.
4. Improve condition of
forest roads, trails, and wildlife areas if desired.
5. Increase options for
non-timber forest projects, like growing American ginseng
and forest mushroom cultivation.
6. More quality timber
available in future sales.
7. Reduces burden of town-by-town
ordinances and regulations.
8. Reduces chance of violating
NY Environmental Conservation Laws and avoid major fines.
9. Increases logging productivity
from reduced weather-related downtime.
10. Reduces time and expense
repairing eroded roads.
Enhances water quality protection.
12. Improves post-harvest
condition of forest soils.
13. Forests managed with
the full range of BMPs are less susceptible to disease,
insect, and deer damage.
14. Improved regeneration
of seedlings and saplings.
15. Improved resistance
to storm damage.
16. Easier to maintain
condition of town and county roads.