Forestry and Timber Harvesting

Well managed forestry. Photo courtesy Holly McKenzie

The forest products industry plays an important role in Montana, contributing to the economy and to the health of our land and water resources. Properly managed forests balance the wood products industry with conservation of wildlife and human habitats. However, poorly managed forestry operations can be a significant source of sedimentation and subsequent nutrient pollution. Timber harvesting operations can be a problem when logging roads, stream crossings, skid trails and log landings are improperly built, poorly located or are not maintained to the appropriate level of use.

Avoid Erosion on Logging Jobs

  • Consult with Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation personnel before you plan your timber harvest. They can provide information about professional logging contractors, forestry consultants and information on streamside management zone (SMZ) laws.
  • Use Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) to prevent erosion during and after timber harvest and road construction operations. Contact your local planning department or Montana’s DNRC for BMPs.
  • Follow the stream management zone (SMZ) law requirements to help filter run-off. Riparian buffer strips wider than the minimum may be necessary to adequately protect streams and lakes.
  • Check with your local conservation district to find out if you need a permit for crossing streams or wetlands on your property. Not all activities require permits and some crossings are permitted without review. Both the landowner and contractor may be legally responsible for obtaining permits.
  • Avoid working in wet areas and during wet weather. The soil’s ability to hold and filter water can be damaged by heavy equipment.
  • Logging equipment can spread noxious weeds and should be washed before the timber harvest and when the job is completed.
  • To reduce erosion and combat the spread of noxious weeds, replant bare disturbed soil with native grasses that promote existing vegetation.
  • Closely monitor and treat (as necessary) disturbed areas such as skid trails

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