Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September BMP Q&A

By: Chris Duncan, BMP Forester (Ret.), Texas Forest Service

Q:  Last month I addressed some of the tools that are available to use as planning aids for forest road design and layout.  This month I would like to address some planning factors to consider before road construction begins.  Next month I will address the construction phase for forest roads.

A:  Methods to control potential nonpoint source pollution from forestry activities starts with the careful planning of the layout of all operations.  The planning process of any forestry activity is extremely important.  A good plan should maximize efficiency, minimize traffic, preserve soil integrity, and protect water quality.  The following are some of the factors to consider during the planning process.

Are there any previously constructed roads on the property?  If there are previously constructed roads available, it may be less expensive to use the existing road system.  If the existing roads are in good shape, there is a potential for lower water quality impact issues than if you were to push in a new road.  It is important to realize that using “legacy” roads may not always be the best option.  When considering whether or not you can utilize an existing road, there are several factors which may be red flags including:  poor location, not stabilized/washing, poor access to the tract, below grade road.

Another factor to consider is whether your roads will be permanent, temporary, or a combination of the two.  Generally; permanent roads are more expensive to construct,   will require more planning, and will require periodic maintenance.  Temporary roads are constructed for a specific job, and are closed or retired after that operation is complete.

What will be the intended traffic for the road?  This is an important factor, and can also help in determining if the road will be permanent or temporary.  Will the road be used as a skid trail, or will there be heavy truck traffic using it?  It may also be helpful to talk with the landowner and determine if they need access to the tract after operations are complete.  Determine if there will be hunters or ATV riders using the roads or if there will be a considerable amount of vehicles (cars) using the road.

Other factors to consider before road construction begins include but are not limited to:
  • Topography - Steep topography will require more water control structures, while flat terrain may have “ponding” issues.
  • Soil Type – Some soils aren’t stable enough to support equipment. Sandy soils are generally more erosive than clays
  • Erosion/Sedimentation Potential- How likely is it that erosion will occur? Are there any streams nearby that may be adversely affected by erosion? 
  • BMPs/Stabilization - What BMPs will I have to use to stabilize road?

These are just a few of the factors which should be considered before any road construction begins.  I encourage you to attend one of our upcoming BMP Forest Roads Logger Training Workshops for more information.

For more information on forest road BMPs and other BMPs visit the Texas Forest Service webpage at http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/water, contact me at (903) 297-3910.

* This article was published in the September 2009 issue of the Texas Logger

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