Eroded forest road due to poor planning
Best Management Practices Before the Timber Harvest


Timing and setting up logging infrastructure

This web article explains how landowners, loggers, and foresters can use maps and weather information to document plans for the physical portions of a timber harvest.


On a baseline map of the timber harvest site, mark the critical areas identified while reviewing the planning information:

      • Ravines and gullies
      • Streams
      • Dry washes
      • Wetlands and forest pools
      • Steep slopes


Identify the main landing and entry point. The landing should be outside a streamside zone, and more than 200 feet from water bodies if possible. Plan on using a filter strip of vegetation between landings and neaby water bodies.

Determine if existing roads will be useful. If an existing road is poorly constructed, and many are, it is often better to put it to rest by seeding it, installing waterbars, and blocking it off. Plan routes of new roads and trails to avoid creating erosion problems. Many older forest roads were designed for winter use only.

Mark potential forest roadways, using the contour as a guide. To the extent possible, follow the contour of the land. On hillsides, use switchbacks. Wherever the road is placed, make sure it will be graded for good drainage.

Avoid steep areas, such as gullies, ravines, outcroppings, and cliffs. Major erosion hazard. If you are going to extract timber from these areas, plan to use winching equipment, erosion matting and other erosion control materials and techniques.

Avoid wet areas, springs, and intermittent streams. If plans call for crossing, use one of the options such as corrugated trail, pole fords, etc.

Schedule the timber harvest for the appropriate season. A timber harvest during winter conditions minimizes erosion as long as the soil is frozen solid. Summer condition timber harvests are good on soil that is seasonally wet, yet is dry enough to support equipment through the summer. In areas where the soil never seems to freeze or dry out, reconsider the timber harvest. The damage to the forest may be more than the timber is worth.

More about weather conditions and log skidding . . .

Home | Index | Tools for Planning a Harvest | Cornell Cooperative Extension ForestryCornell Cooperative Extension helps forest owners

Please cite source: Cornell Cooperative Extension, 2004
Written by James Ochterski, CCE - Schuyler County