Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December BMP Q&A

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

Q:   I was signed up for the BMP Forest Roads workshop in Jefferson back in October, but it was cancelled.  I was wondering if you have any information about BMPs for forest roads.

A:   First off, I’m sorry we had to cancel the BMP Forest Roads workshop in Jefferson.  We did not get enough people to sign up for that course.  We may try to schedule another workshop next spring or summer, but we need your support to make these workshops in NE Texas work. Secondly, in the August issue I wrote about several tools which should be used when available to help aid you in the planning process.  Most of these tools are available at little or no cost to you.  In the September issue, I listed several factors to consider when planning your forest road layout.  Last month I addressed the construction phase for new forest roads. This month I will be wrapping up the forest roads article series with a few pointers on road maintenance/repair.

Proper maintenance/repair of permanent forest road access systems is vitally important to all logging and land management activities.  Road systems should be kept in serviceable/usable condition to minimize erosion by controlling rainfall runoff.  Keeping road systems in serviceable/usable condition has several benefits including decreasing down time caused by impassable roads and reducing impacts to water quality.

When possible, restrict traffic on roads during wet weather conditions.  If roads must be used in wet conditions, consider using materials such as wooden mats, gravel, and geo-textile fabrics to protect the road surface from damage.  Haul only during dry weather in normally wet areas, erodible soils, or on roads with a gradient of more than 10%.  Close or restrict traffic flow following maintenance/repair activities on sensitive permanent or temporary roads to allow them time to stabilize, re-vegetate, and heal over before using again.

Inspect road systems at regular intervals to detect and correct any maintenance/repair issues.  Check to make sure that road surfaces are crowned or outsloped to dissipate surface runoff.  Ensure that all ditches and culverts are free from siltation, logging debris, brush, and other obstructions to allow unrestricted passage of water.  Keep road surfaces free of obstructions, ruts, and logging debris which may restrict water flow from the road surface.  Re-work road surfaces to remove ruts when the average rut depth exceeds 6 inches over a distance of more than 50 feet, or when erosion damage may occur from hauling operations.  Care should be taken to avoid creating a “below grade” road when re-working the road surface.

When all forestry activities have been completed re-work the road surface if necessary. Ensure all drainage systems are open, and seed all areas of bare soil on and along the road system which are subject to excessive erosion.  Close or retire any roads which are not currently in use, and periodically inspect them to ensure their integrity.

These are just a few of the guidelines that should be considered while maintaining/repairing forest road systems.  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 December 2009 issue of the Texas Logger