Main Content


Constructing Forest Roads

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

General Guidelines:

  • Construct only as much road as necessary.
  • If possible, construct, stabilize, and seed in advance of use.
  • Minimize clearing.
  • Keep road width to the minimum necessary to operate safely.
  • In winter, removing leaf cover will allow road to freeze more quickly.
  • Keep blades off the ground when shearing and pushing debris.
  • Minimize earth-moving activities when soils are excessively wet or excessively dry, and before oncoming storms.
  • Place crushed stone on highly erosive sites or when hauling during wet or muddy conditions where necessary.
  • Add geotextile stabilizing fabric under the crushed stone on wet sites where necessary.
  • When using existing roads, reconstruct only to the extent necessary to provide adequate drainage and safety.
  • Construct roads to drain at all times. See Spacing for Drainage Structures for diversion spacing recommendations.
  • Install culverts or other breaks at specified intervals (see Spacing for Drainage Structures) on steep grades where inside ditches are required.
  • Drain water diverting structures and road runoff onto the undisturbed forest floor away from stream channels.
  • Minimize cut and fill work, and keep slopes at stable angles.
  • Maintain an undisturbed buffer strip between forest roads and streams. (See Suggested RMZ Widths).
  • If sufficient buffer strip next to waterways is not possible, use temporary erosion and sediment control practices (e.g. silt fence).
  • Install erosion control measures as road sections are completed.
  • At culvert drain spout, install sufficient energy dissipaters such as brush or riprap where necessary to prevent sediment delivery to the water course.
  • Do not place fill material into open sink holes, waterways, wetlands, floodways, or other sensitive areas.
  • Do not leave felled or cleared material in major stream channels or where it may be washed into a channel during a flood event.
  • Protect the public roadbed and drainage system when accessing public roads. Install a properly sized culvert when necessary.
  • Apply crushed stone to public road access sites if needed to protect the public roadbed and prevent mud buildup.
  • Install an entry gate or barricade to keep potentially damaging and unwanted traffic off of the forest road.

NOTE: The Flood Control Act requires that permanently flowing streams and streams with greater than a square mile watershed and their floodways must be kept clear of debris and fill. Additional federal, state, and local regulations may also apply, such as Federal Emergency Management Agency flood areas. See known regulations.

<< Back to Forest Roads