Without a properly constructed and maintained forest road, you will not be able to easily get to where you want to go on your forestland. Several factors should be considered for good forest road practices that will control erosion and keep sediment out of nearby streams.
Be conservative..Roads should be laid out on the property in a way that provides you the most access, while minimizing the amount of roads that are needed. In other words, be efficient about road placement - don't install more roads than you really need.
Scope out the route..Topographic maps and soil survey maps can help you scope out a good placement for new roads. These maps show you the steepness of the terrain and the types of soil conditions to expect, as well as the possible location of streams. You should avoid crossing streams unless absolutely needed. But don't rely solely on the maps -- walk the route and verify the conditions on the ground.
Stay away from creeks..Keeping roads as far from streams as practical is a critical step to promote the long-term protection of water quality from sediment and erosion problems. Research studies across the nation have shown that un-managed roads are among the leading sources of sediment pollution in streams.
Meet your needs..Build and maintain the road according to the level of traffic and frequency of use you expect to have on the road. Logging trucks and associated equipment need much higher quality and well-maintained roads than typical pickup trucks or SUV's. For adequate logging access, your forest roads may need: substantial gravel or stone surfacing; wider curves and road widths; gentle slopes; a daylight corridor to let sunshine through; firmer roadbed; and truck turnaround spots.
For more information..An excellent how-to guidebook for roads in steep or rolling terrain is The Layman's Guide to Private Access Road Construction in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Second Edition 2005. This booklet is available online and printed copies should be available free of charge at your County Forest Ranger office or local USDA-NRCS or Soil & Water Conservation offices.
Chapter 5 - Part 4 in the North Carolina forestry BMP manual outlines suggestions for forest roads in greater detail.
Access to Public Roads
Keep it clean..Access road entrances onto public roads should be maintained to minimize dirt, mud, and debris from being dragged onto the public road from the woods. Clean ("washed") gravel, railroad ballast, and/or wooden logging or road mats can be used for establishing access road entrances. The wood mats or rock should be laid down for at least 100 feet back from the entrance point, to insure there is enough room for mud and debris to get "kicked off" vehicle tires before they enter the public roadway.
Maintain the ditch..Roadside shoulders and ditches should be protected from damage by logging trucks and wide turns made by logging or equipment flatbed trailers. Any debris that falls into the roadside ditch should be cleaned out and removed promptly. Using bridgemats or dragline mats across a highway ditch can help keep debris out of the ditch, and provide a wider turning radius. Using mats or bridges can also help protect the outlet ends of a culvert that may too short.
Safety is key..A clear line-of-sight for oncoming traffic is a vital safety element to consider when connecting your forest road into a public roadway. You should avoid entering and exiting the public road over the crest of a hill or in a curve. Cutting back brush and removing visual obstacles will help oncoming traffic see vehicles as they turn in and out of the forest road. Caution signs should be placed along both directions of a public road to warn oncoming traffic that vehicles are using a forest road access entrance.
Know the rules..Installation of new access road entrances along publicly maintained roads should conform to N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) requirements and may require a permit from the N.C. Division of Highways. N.C. Forest Service personnel are not trained to provide technical engineering advice on public roadway access and entrance specifications, but can assist with general forest road advice.