InTrans / Aug 14, 2018

A Landowner’s Guide to Building Forest Access Roads

Roads provide needed access to small woodlots; however, high costs, land disturbance, degradation of water quality, and destruction of fish habitat can all result from poor development, construction, and maintenance of forest roads. This guide was developed to give private owners of small woodlots the basic information needed to avoid these problems and protect valued natural resources.

This guide applies to low-speed forest roads with a 12-foot-wide running surface that are needed only temporarily or only during certain times of the year. Recommendations in this guide cover basic planning, construction, drainage, maintenance, and closure of such forest roads. The recommendations incorporate best management practices, which are designed to reduce nonpoint-source pollution, as can occur during road building.

This guide also covers special situations involving water that require individual consideration: streams with or without migratory fish, beaver ponds, and wetlands. Each of these situations is covered in a separate section. Landowners should read each section that applies to their land.

Geotextiles are also described in a separate section. These synthetic permeable materials can be used during road building in a variety of ways, from providing standard drainage to performing specialized functions in wetlands.