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Planning Forest Roads

Proper drainage is the single most important factor in controlling soil erosion and keeping a road in usable condition.

General Guidelines

Your plan should include:

  • Lay out the road and its drainage system before equipment arrives.
  • Use existing access routes if use will not aggravate erosion problems.
  • Apply the Riparian Management Zone best management practices to road locations.
  • Minimize the number of stream crossings.
  • Provide safe and visible access to public roads.
  • Avoid or minimize disturbance to areas of high quality trees.
  • Coordinate with utility companies and highway departments.
  • Keep grades between 2 percent and 10 percent when possible.
  • Maintain buffers between roads, waterways and other sensitive areas.
  • Grades up to 15 percent can be used for distances up to 300 feet.
  • Break road grades frequently to divert water from the road surface onto stable areas of the forest floor.
  • Use naturally stable sites such as ridge crests and well-drained sites and contours.
  • Avoid gullies, seeps, and other permanently wet areas.
  • Mark the locations of grade breaks, outslopes and diversions.
  • Incorporate aesthetic considerations, especially in visually sensitive areas. Visually sensitive areas may include landings next to roadways, residences, and property access points.

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