Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Water Quality

What is Nonpoint Source Pollution

Nonpoint source pollution is generated from land runoff resulting from precipitation. As runoff moves over land surfaces, it picks up and carries away natural and man-made pollutants and deposits them into waterways, wetlands, and groundwater. Human activity can dramatically increase nonpoint source pollution potential.

There can be five types of water pollutants resulting from silvicultural activities:

  • Sediment
  • Nutrients
  • Organics
  • Temperature
  • Chemicals

Silvicultural activities that have the greatest chance of causing nonpoint source pollution include:

  • Forest road construction, including stream crossings
  • Forest harvesting activities, including skidding and processing timber
  • Site preparation
  • Pesticide application
  • Wildfire control lines and prescribed fire use

Why Nonpoint Source Pollution is Important to Us

Abundant clean water is important to all Virginians. Excessive runoff can increase sedimentation to streams. Increased sedimentation raises filtering costs for drinking water, increases flood potential by filling up streambeds, and chokes irrigation systems. Fish habitats can be altered by improper management activities. Removing shade from critical streamside areas can increase water temperatures thus affecting fish and other aquatic life. Best management practices (BMPs) can reduce the impact from these management activities.

Best Management Practices – What They are and Why They are Important

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are activities chosen to reduce soil erosion and prevent or control pollution resulting from forestry operations. BMPs have been around for many years in the areas of forestry, agriculture and urban development. Forestry BMPs are directed primarily at controlling erosion. Erosion can lead to sedimentation, which is the entry of soil into waterways. BMPs are proven methods to lessen the potential damage from land-disturbing activities.

VDOF Assistance

The VDOF is available to assist landowners and forest operators with harvest planning, BMP recommendations, and site restoration guidance. The Department also monitors BMP implementation on areas statewide to ensure that water quality is being protected through harvest inspections. We’re proud to report that we continue to see a high BMP implementation rate of 95% statewide.

VDOF developed a comprehensive Virginia’s Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality – Technical Guide and Field Guide that are both available in our Resource Library below.


Your local VDOF forest technician can advise about incorporating proper BMPs to protect water quality during the implementation of a forestry practice on your property. Your local VDOF water quality staff can also assist with technical BMP guidance.

Agency Directory


Additional Resources

ImageTitleIDDescriptionContent Typedocument-category_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.

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Best Management Practices - Log Landings
Best Management Practices – Log LandingsFT0043

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

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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.

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Best Management Practices - Stream Crossings
Best Management Practices – Stream CrossingsFT0042

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A variety of financial assistance programs are available through VDOF and partner agencies for forest management activities to protect water quality.

Explore All Financial Assistance Programs


Contact Us

Your local VDOF forest technician can advise about incorporating proper BMPs to protect water quality during the implementation of a forestry practice on your property. Your local VDOF water quality staff can also assist with technical BMP guidance. Contact your local VDOF staff.

For more information or questions, e-mail us or use our contact form.