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Differences Between FPGs & BMPs in North Carolina

Forest Practices Guidelines Related to Water Quality
In North Carolina, the FPGs are mandatory, statewide requirements defined by N.C. Administrative Code 02 NCAC 60C .0100-.0209. All forestry-related, site-disturbing activities must comply with the FPGs if that activity is to remain exempt from permitting and other requirements specified in the North Carolina Sedimentation Pollution Control Act (SPCA) of 1973.

The N.C. Forest Service (NCFS) inspects thousands of job sites each year to assess compliance with these regulations. The FPGs are goal-oriented, narrative performance standards, and there are nine of them:

  • .0201 Streamside Management Zone (SMZ)
  • .0202 Prohibition of Debris Entering Streams and Waterbodies
  • .0203 Access Road and Skid Trail Stream Crossings
  • .0204 Access Road Entrances
  • .0205 Prohibition of Waste Entering Streams, Waterbodies, and Groundwater
  • .0206 Pesticide Application
  • .0207 Fertilizer Application
  • .0208 Perennial Stream Temperature
  • .0209 Rehabilitation of Project Site

Best Management Practices
For forestry activities in North Carolina, the term BMPs refers to effective, economical and practical treatments, methods or practices that can be implemented to help prevent pollution from getting into our water and thereby protect water quality. The detailed definition of BMPs can be found within the FPG rules citation and the North Carolina Forestry BMP Manual.

Think of BMPs as the tools in the toolbox. For instance, we all need to keep our car or truck in good working condition so that we comply with the rules and inspections. When preventative maintenance is needed, or when it's time to fix a problem, you get your toolbox, select the right tools, and get the job done.

On logging jobs and other forestry activities, it can be thought of in the same way. All forestry work must comply with the FPGs, as well as other regulations that are related to water quality protection. In order to prevent a problem from happening, or to fix a problem, you can select a series of BMPs that are your "tools" to protect water quality. Sometimes you need more tools (BMPs) than others, and likewise, there are some BMPs (tools) that should be used for all situations.

Example of FPGs versus BMPs
There is a FPG standard that defines what you must accomplish to protect water quality when making an access entrance from the woods onto a public road. As cited in FPG .0204:

"A forest access road entrance that intersects a paved road shall be installed and maintained to prevent visible sediment or other debris from being deposited onto the paved road to the extent that the visible sediment or other debris would enter an intermittent stream, a perennial stream, or a perennial waterbody".

A common BMP tool that may be used to comply with FPG .0204 is the use of large wooden pallet mats. These mats are laid down for log trucks to drive upon when they leave the woods and enter onto a public roadway. These mats keep the log trucks off of the soil and prevent mud from sticking to the truck tires. When logging is complete, the mats are removed and the bare soil can be easily stabilized.

Using the example above, if excessive soil and debris were dragged onto the public roadway, which could then flow into a stream, there would still be a potential FPG violation even though a good BMP tool was being used at the time.

We strongly recommend that you implement all applicable BMPs during forestry activities. However, it is important to realize that even good BMPs may not always result in compliance with the FPGs or other regulations.

Ultimately, you have to take whatever action is necessary to fix a water quality problem. The bottom line for FPGs is to keep sediment and other pollution out of the water no matter what method is used. Usually, BMPs can be the best and lowest cost solution to comply with the FPGs, and other water quality regulations.

Our foresters and county ranger staff can give you advice about FPGs, BMPs and other water quality issues.

This page updated: September 8, 2020 10:28

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