Water Quality Laws

It is important for logging operators to understand the laws related to water quality protection including the requirement for timber harvest notification to ensure protection of Virginia’s water quality.

Laws Related to Timber Harvesting

Virginia Silvicultural Water Quality Law

  • Requires sediment to be kept from streams during forestry operations.
  • Applies to all landowners, timber owners, and logging operators.
  • Requires notification of timber harvest by logging operators.

Virginia Debris in Stream Law

  • Requires logging operators to keep logging debris from blocking stream channels.
  • Criminal law enforced by VDOF and DWR.

Erosion and Sediment Control Laws

  • Locality-based laws requiring protection of soil and water quality.
  • Forestry operations are exempt as long as forestry best management practices (BMPs) are utilized.

Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act Areas

  • Applies to tidal counties of Virginia.
  • Exemption for forestry operations incorporating BMPs.

Notification of Timber Harvests

Logging operators are required by law to notify VDOF prior to the commencement of their timber harvesting operation but no later than three (3) days after the start of the operation. This can be done in a number of ways:

  1. Online: https://www.ifris.dof.virginia.gov/harvestnotification/
  2. Calling: 1-800-LOGS (5647)
  3. Contacting a local VDOF office or staff

Failure to notify can result in a monetary penalty.


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 water quality law enforcement.

Agency Directory


Additional Resources

ImageTitleIDDescriptionContent Typedocument-category_hfilterMedia_hfilter
Harvest Notification
Harvest Notification18.01Viewwater-qualityform
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-qualitypublication
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-qualitypublication
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-qualitypublication
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-qualitypublication
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-qualitypublication
Virginia's Forestry Laws
Virginia’s Forestry LawsP00002

Pocket guide provides detailed information about the forestry laws in Virginia, including general forestry laws, forest fire laws and penalties, certified prescribed burn manager laws, seed tree laws, riparian forest buffer tax credit laws, debris in streams laws and penalties, silvicultural water quality laws and penalties, and more. Printed copies available.

Viewfire-and-emergency-responsepublication

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 water quality law enforcement. Contact your local VDOF staff.

Your local water quality staff can assist with law enforcement questions. Contact your local VDOF water quality staff.