Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Tuesday, November 15

MDEQ: Wet Decking Timber Permit Streamlined

A seldom mentioned toll of Hurricane Katrina is the considerable damage to the state’s timber crops. The lengthy fall dry spell immediately following Katrina further exacerbated the problem. The state did not have enough wet-decking facilities to keep the timber moist for efficient harvesting.

MDEQ’s Environmental Permits Division (EPD) quickly identified the impending problems and offered proactive solutions. Within one week of Katrina’s landfall and in the first two days of returning to MDEQ’s offices (remember, electricity was not restored to much of the Jackson area for over a week), EPD employees were able to streamline the permitting process for new wet-decking facilities. The DEQ Permit Board began to issue State Operating Permits (SOPs) within two weeks of landfall.

SOPs allow a facility to operate temporarily, until the regular permitting process may be completed, while forbidding discharge of any kind. That 8 new facilities were operating within two weeks is remarkable, considering the standard permitting process for such a facility normally takes from 90 to 180 days. The SOPs were issued within two days. The streamlined process allowed much of the downed timber to be salvaged.

EPD staff next developed a Wet Deck Log Spray NPDES General Permit. The permit will apply to all facilities currently operating under SOPs. EPA approved the new General Permit within two days, trimming the average process by 18 days. The permit is now in the Public Notice phase (Nov. 8-Dec. 8). Once approved, all facilities utilizing the No Discharge SOPs will be able to operate under the same guidelines as those facilities permitted prior to Katrina.

For more information on MDEQ’s on-going efforts to streamline all permitting processes, please contact Jerry Cain of EPD at To learn more about wet decking permits, please contact Harry Wilson at


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