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Managing and Protecting Natural Resources

Throughout Montana, forest lands act as collectors of pure water. Protecting this source of pure water is the responsibility of both forest landowners and loggers.


Best Management Practices (BMPs) are guidelines used to direct forest activities and protect water quality. These guidelines are practical actions that landowners, forest managers and loggers can take to limit non-point pollution of water resources. The implementation and effectiveness of these BMPs are evaluated every two years by interdisciplinary BMP audit teams. A copy of this Biennial BMP audit report is available from the MLA or the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.


Preserving Water Quality and Habitat

A Streamside Management Zone (SMZ) is a mandated protection area around a stream, lake or other body of water that must be protected because of its special importance. The function of an SMZ is to preserve water quality and to provide for cold, clear, connected and complex native fish habitat.

The riparian area "green zone" around streams, lakes, reservoirs, springs and seeps represents that area that stays green long into the summer months. Riparian areas usually have wet soils and high water tables, and can be identified by the presence of water loving plants such as alder, willow, cottonwood, cedar and spruce.

Recognizing these areas and knowing their locations in the forest makes protecting water quality with an SMZ much easier.

For information about BMPs and SMZ’s and their application, contact:

The Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation
Marc Vessar @ 406-381-6736
Visit their website to download BMP Handbook or SMZ Guide
Montana DNRC

Streamside Management Zones
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