Closing roads

Larry Stamm larryst at
Sat Apr 18 10:05:43 EST 1998

Just some more observations about closing forest roads:

Locally,because of the very steep and unstable slopes, if a forest road is not
going to be actively maintained but it is desired to remain usuable, then
certain steps must be taken to facilitate drainage.  The culverts must be pulled
and water bars dug across the road, and the natural drainage pattern be
reestablished.  If this is done carefully then the road can still be navigated
with 4x4's, assuming the boulders and fallen logs that accumulate on the roadbed
are removed.  If no deactivation is done, then the natural drainage pattern will
reassert itself via washouts and slippages.  Long sections of the roadbed may
slide into the valley bottoms.  It would be more expensive to re-establish an
abandoned road in this condition than the total cost of deactivating and
reestablishing a deactivated road, not to mention the environmental damage.

An interesting argument locally to totally obliterate unused roads is this.
Snowmobilers will use any trail or track that is provides a vaguely clear
passage through the bush.  Gates or deep ditches are not an obstacle after the
snow gets sufficiently deep.  Snowmobiles leave compacted tracks in their wake,
and wolves can travel swiftly on top of the snow along these tracks.  Caribou
and moose punch through the snow, packed trail or no.  The wolves have learned
to utilize these packed snowmobile trails in their hunting to enable some
animals in the pack to get ahead of their quarry being chased by other members
of the pack, and can greatly increase their kill rate in deep snow winters.
this puts more stress on the already endangered baribou herds.  Banning
snowmobiling in caribou wintering areas is not politically expedient; removing
and recontouring roads is.
Larry Stamm
larryst at

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