Q: I am a landowner here in East Texas and I lease the majority of my land out to hunters. Last year before hunting season I decided to harvest some of the timber and after the harvest I spent a lot of time ensuring that my roads were left in good shape by making sure that waterbars were left and were built correctly. The problem that I have is the hunters will drive across these waterbars tearing them down and I have to spend more time and money rebuilding them. Is there anything I can do to discourage them from driving across my waterbars and tearing them up?
A: This is a common problem between landowners and hunters. Hunters often do not realize how much time and money is spent on properly constructing waterbars. Also they may not realize just how important waterbars are in protecting roads from erosion and keeping them functional for the landowner. Continuous traffic and even occasional traffic across waterbars will degrade their structural integrity and impede their ability to properly disperse water from the roadway. However, there are a couple of things that you can do to discourage hunters from driving across your waterbars.
A good way to discourage hunters from driving across your waterbars is to include this as a condition of the lease that they sign. Include a section in your lease that states the hunters will not drive their trucks or ATVs down roads that have waterbars placed on them and if they do there will be some type of penalty. This penalty could be that the hunters would have to pay to have the waterbars rebuilt or this could constitute revoking their hunting lease. Whatever the penalty is it should be agreed upon by both parties and included in the lease agreement to ensure that both parties interests are protected.
Placing tops and other logging debris in your waterbars can also discourage hunters from driving across your waterbars. Hunters are less likely to drive across a waterbar that has limbs sticking out the top of it versus a waterbar that doesn’t. There are consequences to driving across one of these debris filled waterbars. These consequences can include the hunter puncturing one of his tires on his vehicle or ATV or even worse a limb could puncture the radiator causing severe damage to the hunter’s vehicle. These damages can be costly to fix thus making a hunter a little more reluctant to drive across one of your waterbars.
Another alternative that can be used separately or in conjunction with the previous two is to create a barricade at the entrance of the road. This can be done by pushing up tops and limbs and making a large brush pile that can’t be driven across. However, this would limit your access to the road as well and make it difficult for you to get in and manage your property. Another possibility is to place a cable across the entranceway but this may be a little more costly but it would certainly keep hunters off your road and keep them from destroying your waterbars.
The best solution to this problem is to discuss your concerns with the hunters before allowing them access to your property. Most hunters are considerate of the landowner’s wishes and will comply with them in order to gain access to the property. Remember that waterbars are only effective when constructed properly and maintained. The BMP Bluebook offers recommendations on how to properly construct waterbars. You can obtain a copy of the newly revised BMP Bluebook by visiting your local Texas Forest Service office or you can view it online at http://txforestservice.tamu.edu/water. If you have any questions regarding BMPs please call me at (936) 639-8180.
* This article was published in the March 2005 issue of the Texas Logger