Water Quality Protection

Forests are vital for preserving and improving water quality. Studies have shown that the cleanest water comes from forested watersheds. These watersheds are critical sources of pure drinking water and provide habitat for fish and wildlife; they also offer recreational opportunities and contribute to our overall quality of life.

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is tasked with promoting and enforcing the Virginia Silvicultural Water Quality Law (Code of Virginia §10.1-1181.1 through §10.1-1181.7), developing best management practices (BMPs) for forest harvesting operations, and working cooperatively with agencies and landowners throughout the Commonwealth to manage and preserve riparian buffers and protect water quality.

Two of VDOF’s performance measures involve water quality. One focuses on BMPs on forest harvesting operations and protecting streams from sediment. The other focuses on protecting and improving watersheds through forest management and land conservation.

VDOF has played an important role in the protection of our forested watersheds since the early 1970s when the first set of Forestry BMPs for Water Quality were developed. The backbone of the agency’s water quality efforts is the harvest inspection program that began in the mid-1980s. This program provides one-on-one contact between VDOF staff and the harvest operators and offers unique opportunities to educate the operators about BMPs and the latest techniques in water quality protection.

Through these water quality protection activities, VDOF helps Virginia to achieve the goals set forth in the Watershed Improvement Plan to protect the Chesapeake Bay; ensures that Virginia’s forests continue to provide clean, plentiful drinking water; and supports habitat for fishes and wildlife throughout the Commonwealth.



Water Quality Protection Resources

Explore our library to view additional information and learn more. Click on the category, tag, or media dropdown lists, or enter a keyword in the search box to filter the library list to find more specific information.

ImageTitleIDDescriptionContent Typedocument-category_hfilterdocument-tags_hfilterMedia_hfilter
Best Management Practices - Brush Matting and Vegetation
Best Management Practices – Brush Matting and VegetationFT0041

Forestry topic information sheet shows examples of correct best management practices – brush matting and vegetation.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices forestry-topics logger-resources timber-harvestingpublication
Best Management Practices - Log Landings
Best Management Practices – Log LandingsFT0043

Forestry topic information sheet shows examples of correct best management practices – log landings.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices forestry-topics logger-resources timber-harvestingpublication
Best Management Practices - Roads and Trails
Best Management Practices – Roads and TrailsFT0046

Forestry topic information sheet shows examples of correct best management practices – roads and trails.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices forestry-topics logger-resources timber-harvestingpublication
Best Management Practices - Stream Crossings
Best Management Practices – Stream CrossingsFT0042

Forestry topic information sheet shows examples of correct best management practices – stream crossings.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices forestry-topics logger-resources timber-harvestingpublication
Best Management Practices - Streamside Management Zones
Best Management Practices – Streamside Management ZonesFT0044

Forestry topic information sheet shows examples of correct best management practices – streamsize management zones.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices forestry-topics logger-resources timber-harvestingpublication
Best Management Practices - Water Bars and Rolling Dips
Best Management Practices – Water Bars and Rolling DipsFT0045

Forestry topic information sheet shows examples of correct best management practices – water bars and rolling dips.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices forestry-topics logger-resources timber-harvestingpublication
Clearcutting Facts and Myths
Clearcutting Facts and MythsP00202

Brochure offers clarification of the facts and myths related to clearcutting, including the history of clearcutting, science behind clearcutting, and the benefits of clearcutting.

Viewwater-qualitytimber-harvestingpublication
Cost-Share/AMP Project Amendment
Cost-Share/AMP Project Amendment3.11Viewfinance financial-assistance financial-assistance-forest-health financial-assistance-forest-management financial-assistance-water-quality forest-health forest-management water-qualitycost-share-programs eabt-program grant-programs lpfct-program lpr-program pct-program rt-programform
Farm Life 360
Farm Life 360

Video provides a 360° forestry experience on a timber harvest. Read the Fact Sheet or do the Activity Suggestion: Create a Tree.

Vieweducation forest-management water-quality public-informationkids-resources timber-harvestingvideo
Forestry Cost-Share or Grant Program Certification of Work Completed
Forestry Cost-Share or Grant Program Certification of Work Completed3.09Viewfinance financial-assistance financial-assistance-forest-health financial-assistance-forest-management financial-assistance-water-quality forest-health forest-management water-qualitycost-share-programs grant-programs lpfct-program lpr-program pct-programform
Forests and Water - Get the Most Out of Your Land
Forests and Water – Get the Most Out of Your LandP00211

Publication is directed to landowners to educate about forest buffers, stream water quality, watersheds, riparian buffer tax credit program and other programs that can assist. Printed copies available.

Viewwater-qualitycost-share-programs farms forest-planning landowner-assistance riparian-forest-bufferspublication
Harvest Notification
Harvest Notification18.01Viewwater-qualitylaw-enforcement water-quality-lawsform
Healthy Watersheds Forest Retention Project Phases 1 and 2 Final Report
Healthy Watersheds Forest Retention Project Phases 1 and 2 Final ReportViewwater-qualitypublication
Herd Health
Herd Health

Brochure by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation provides tips for keeping cattle healthy through better watering techniques.

Viewwater-qualityfarms water-quality-protectionpublication
James River Buffer Program - Growing Forests for Clean Water
James River Buffer Program – Growing Forests for Clean Water

Information sheet provides an overview of this joint program (James River Association and Virginia Department of Forestry) offering financial assistance for creating forest buffers across the Middle James Watershed.

Viewfinancial-assistance-forest-management financial-assistance-water-quality forest-management water-qualityjames-river-buffer-programdocument
Logger Notification Log Book for Loggers
Logger Notification Log Book for Loggers

Log book is a booklet of timber harvest notification forms for use by loggers to keep track of their notifications. Printed copies available.

Viewwater-qualityharvest-notification logger-resources timber-harvestingpublication
Logger Pine Thinning Cost-Share Program - First Commercial Pine Thinning
Logger Pine Thinning Cost-Share Program – First Commercial Pine ThinningFT0028

Forestry topic information sheet provides an overview of the Logger Pine Thinning Cost-Share Program offering financial assistance for first commercial pine thinning.

Viewfinancial-assistance-water-quality water-qualitycost-share-programs forestry-topics lpfct-program thinning timber-harvestingpublication
Mountains to Bay Buffer Program - Growing Forests for Clean Water
Mountains to Bay Buffer Program – Growing Forests for Clean Water

Information sheet provides an overview of this joint program (Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Virginia Department of Forestry) offering financial assistance for restoring or creating forest buffers across the Shenandoah Valley.

Viewfinancial-assistance-forest-management financial-assistance-water-quality forest-management water-qualitymountains-to-bay-buffer-programdocument
Multiple Landowners Supplement
Multiple Landowners Supplement3.10Viewfinance financial-assistance financial-assistance-forest-health financial-assistance-forest-management financial-assistance-water-quality forest-health forest-management water-qualitycost-share-programs eabt-program grant-programs lpfct-program lpr-program pct-program rt-programform
Rain Gardens
Rain GardensP00124

Brochure educates landowners on options available to resolve issues with excess drainage from roofs, gutters, sidewalks, and roads, eliminating soil erosion, improving the quality of water, and how to put nature to work for you. Printed copies available.

Viewurban-and-community-forestry water-qualityhomeowner-assistance landowner-resources rain-gardens stormwater-managementpublication
Rain Gardens Technical Guide
Rain Gardens Technical GuideP00127

Technical guide provides detailed instruction for homeowners, teachers, community leaders, gardeners and landscape architects on the planning and development of rain gardens to create a landscape feature that will solve drainage problems, address erosion problems, improve water quality, create wildlife habitat and create a garden focal point. Printed copies available.

Viewurban-and-community-forestry water-qualityhomeowner-assistance landowner-resources rain-gardens stormwater-managementpublication
Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification (Virginia Dept. of Accounts)
Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification (Virginia Dept. of Accounts)W-9Viewfinance financial-assistance-fire-and-emergency-response financial-assistance-forest-health financial-assistance-forest-management financial-assistance-urban-and-community-forestry financial-assistance-water-quality fire-and-emergency-response forest-health forest-management urban-and-community-forestry water-qualitycost-share-programs eabt-program firewise-mitigation-program grant-programs lpfct-program lpr-program pct-program rt-program vfa-programform
Riparian Buffer Implementation Plan 2006-2010
Riparian Buffer Implementation Plan 2006-2010

Report provides details of the implementation plan to support the Virginia Riparian Buffer Initiative.

Viewwater-qualitychesapeake-bay riparian-forest-bufferspublication
Riparian Buffer Tax Credit Application
Riparian Buffer Tax Credit Application18.08Viewwater-qualityriparian-buffer-tax-creditform
Riparian Buffer Tax Credit S-Corporation/Partnership Landowner Information
Riparian Buffer Tax Credit S-Corporation/Partnership Landowner Information18.09Viewwater-qualityriparian-buffer-tax-creditform
Riparian Buffers Tax Credit
Riparian Buffers Tax CreditP00123

Brochure described the Riparian Buffers Tax Credit program, including who is eligible, how to sign up, application requirements, application approval, Buffer specifications, noncompliance, and inspections. Printed copies available.

Viewwater-qualityriparian-forest-bufferspublication
Riparian Forest Buffers - Forests on the Water's Edge
Riparian Forest Buffers – Forests on the Water’s EdgeP00140

Publication is the effort of the Chesapeake Bay Program, including multiple states within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, to educate the community leaders and the public about the benefits of riparian forest Buffers, their importance to watersheds for air quality, water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, forest Buffer losses and how we manage growth in riparian zones, how to maintain quality riparian forest Buffers, efforts in riparian forest restoration, and what you can do for forest Buffers. Printed copies available.

Viewwater-qualitychesapeake-bay landowner-assistance riparian-forest-buffers streamside-forests tree-benefits water-quality-protectionpublication
Riparian Forest Handbook 1 - Appreciating and Evaluating Stream Side Forests
Riparian Forest Handbook 1 – Appreciating and Evaluating Stream Side ForestsNo #

Handbook is a valuable resource describing why riparian forests are important, evaluating the health of your riparian buffer, and determining how to restore your riparian forests.

Viewwater-qualityriparian-forest-bufferspublication
Services for Landowners
Services for LandownersP00112

Brochure provides information about the services available to landowners from the Virginia Department of Forestry, including forest management and Forest Health, timber harvesting and water quality, land conservation, tree seedling production, and resource protection. Printed copies available.

Viewfire-and-emergency-response forest-health forest-management forestland-conservation nurseries urban-and-community-forestry water-qualityagency-services conservation forest-health-impacts forest-planning land-planning landowner-assistance seedling-nurseries timber-harvesting water-quality-laws water-quality-protection wildfire-prevention wildfire-suppressionpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2007-2008
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2007-2008P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2009
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2009P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2010
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2010P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2011
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2011P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2012
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2012P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2013
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2013P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2014
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2014P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2015
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2015P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2016
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2016P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2017
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2017P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2018
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2018P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2019
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2019P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia - 2020
Silvicultural Best Management Practices Implementation Monitoring for Virginia – 2020P00143

Annual report on the implementation of BMP monitoring in Virginia, including the audit methods and results of audits over the course of a year.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices timber-harvestingpublication
Timber Harvest Notification - Required by Law
Timber Harvest Notification – Required by LawFT0027

Forestry topic information sheet educated logger and landowners about the timber harvest notification that is required by Virginia law.

Viewwater-qualityforestry-topics harvest-notification logger-resources timber-harvesting water-quality-lawspublication
Timber Harvesting and Water Quality
Timber Harvesting and Water QualityP00132

Brochure educates landowners and harvesters about the impact of timber harvesting on water quality and the steps required to maintain compliance with applicable laws during pre-harvest planning, harvesting and tract closeout after harvesting. Printed copies available.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices landowner-assistance landowner-resources logger-resources timber-harvesting water-quality-lawspublication
Virginia Trees for Clean Water Grant Program Application
Virginia Trees for Clean Water Grant Program Application17.02Viewfinancial-assistance-urban-and-community-forestry financial-assistance-water-quality urban-and-community-forestry water-qualitycommunity-assistance community-resources grant-programs va-trees-for-clean-water-programform
Virginia Trees for Clean Water Grant Program Budget Worksheet
Virginia Trees for Clean Water Grant Program Budget Worksheet17.04Viewfinancial-assistance-urban-and-community-forestry financial-assistance-water-quality urban-and-community-forestry water-qualitycommunity-assistance community-resources grant-programs va-trees-for-clean-water-programform
Virginia's Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality - Field Guide
Virginia’s Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality – Field GuideP00134

Technical field guide provides a convenient pocket instruction guide for timber harvesters to protect water quality when harvesting timber and comply with applicable laws. Printed copies available.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices logger-resources pre-harvest-planning riparian-forest-buffers streamside-forests timber-harvesting water-quality-laws water-quality-protectionpublication
Virginia's Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality - Technical Guide - Fifth Edition
Virginia’s Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality – Technical Guide – Fifth EditionP00104

Technical guide provides detailed instruction for timber harvesters to protect water quality when harvesting timber and comply with applicable laws. Printed copies available.

Viewwater-qualitybest-management-practices logger-resources pre-harvest-planning riparian-forest-buffers streamside-forests timber-harvesting water-quality-laws water-quality-protectionpublication
Why Plant Forest Buffer? - Planting Riparian Forest Buffer is Real Forestry
Why Plant Forest Buffer? – Planting Riparian Forest Buffer is Real ForestryFT0013

Forestry topic information sheet emphasizes the importance of riparian Buffers to protect waterways, including what are riparian Buffers, riparian Buffer implementation, and cost-share programs available, such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).

Viewwater-qualityforestry-topics riparian-forest-buffers streamside-forests water-quality-protectionpublication

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