By: Hughes Simpson, BMP Forester, Texas Forest Service
Q: I have just finished logging a tract of timber and want to stabilize the road system to prevent erosion from occurring. However, this property is currently under a hunting lease, and it will see a lot of traffic during the upcoming deer season. I don’t want to block access to hunters by installing waterbars, but also don’t want to cause any impacts to water quality. What can I do?
A: This is a common problem that contractors face each hunting season. Millions of acres are leased every year for this recreational activity, which can contribute a substantial source of income to many landowners. It is important to provide access to hunters on these lands, and at the same time protect water quality.
Waterbars are very effective drainage control structures that can prohibit or limit access to hunters if not installed correctly. Building these devices too tall will temporarily keep people out until they can find a way to knock it down or level it out, undoing all of the good that you had intended.
On roads that will see heavy traffic, other erosion control alternatives should be considered. Rolling dips will also function in cross drainage, and make it easier for vehicles to travel road systems. These structures look like stretched out waterbars, and are excellent for use on steeper grades. Broad-based dips are not recommended for use on steep grades, but can allow for higher vehicle speeds.
Another technique that can be utilized is an open top box culvert. These are installed flush with the road surface at an angle of 30-45 degrees downgrade. Water should be transported off the roadway and allowed to dissipate into surrounding areas. A potential drawback to using this method is that they require periodic maintenance to make sure that the channel is free from any obstructions. They can also be safety hazards to horseback riders.
Creating partnerships with hunting clubs is an excellent way to protect roads from erosion and cut down on your expenses. Hunting clubs may be willing to revegetate roads with grasses or plants that will also serve as wildlife food plots. This will aid in holding the soil in place, keeping the road from washing out and possibly giving a hunter a chance at a trophy buck.
You can find out more information on broad based dips, rolling dips, and open top box culverts by consulting the Texas Forestry Best Management Practices Handbook on pages 40-46. If you have a question regarding BMPs, please call me at (936) 639-8180.
* This article was published in the October 2001 issue of the Texas Logger