forest roadways in your woodlot
This web article explains how forest
owners can create useful, permanent roadways in their forests
while minimizing erosion and sedimentation of streams.
Forest roadways and large trails
provide the most important means of accessing forests for removing
firewood, ATV-based recreation, hiking, and other activities.
Unfortunately, forest roads cause more erosion than any other
aspect woodland maintenance. When sediment washes away from forests,
it usually starts from erosion along poorly built forest roadways.
Even though forest roads are important
for harvesting timber, reforestation, recreation, and forestry
projects, they should be placed only where necessary. Avoid building
new roads in forests if it is not necessary.
The basic problem of forest roads
is that they create a harder, compact surface within woodlands.
Forest soils are naturally permeable and sponge-like. Forest roads,
on the other hand, are much more impervious, causing water from
rain and show melt to run across the surface, rather than soaking
in. Uncontrolled surface runoff washes away thousands of tons
of soil over time. Eroded soil cannot be replaced without a great
deal of expensive and time-consuming effort. If the surface water
is controlled, forest soil remains in place, providing a good
foundation for future forest growth.
Forest road & trail best
Use existing roads.
Forest owners usually know where existing roadways lie. These
roads often provide the best access through a forest. If so, inspect
the grade and slope of the road so that they move small amounts
of water short distances. Technicians from the county Soil and
Water Conservation District office can help you with technical
information and on-site assistance. If an existing road is unsuitable
for use (poorly constructed, wrong location), make sure the road
is stabilized and will not create a future erosion hazard.
routes for new roads.
New forest roads should be built in as few places as possible.
Minimize the length and width of the road to fit the project.
Technicians from the county Soil and Water Conservation District
office can help you with technical information about forest road
construction and on-site assistance.
New roads should follow gentle
slopes. Avoid long, straight slopes.
Water on these kinds of roads can gather lots of erosion momentum.
Also avoid streams, wetlands, steep areas, and ponds with new
roads. If the road has to run close to a stream or other surface
water, plan on maintaining a filter strip, 10 - 40 feet wide.
This filter strip will capture sediment before it runs into the
Diversion ditches / Turnouts
/ Turn ups
Smaller forest roads and skid trails can be stabilized by redirecting
water toward a vegetated area, rather than down the track of a
forest road. With a combination of easily- installed ditches,
turnouts, and turn-ups, a forest road controls water flow and
prevents erosion. In a sense, the forest roadway appears to "wiggle"
through the woods, shedding water at each small slope and turn.
Small-scale erosion control features,
like rubber deflectors and diversion dips can be constructed by
Where vehicular access could pose
a problem for the landowner or forest, place a gate or other barrier
at the entrance to the road. Make sure the barrier can not be
avoided by driving around or entering from another point.