Heavy rains and strong winds are usual weather events in British Columbia this time of year. If you’re a forest owner with streams on your property, minimising negative impacts to water quality and fish and wildlife habitat are crucial forest stewardship objectives.

PFLA is committed to helping forest owners protect BC’s abundant streams, rivers, lakes and watercourse, not to mention investments you’ve made in your access structures.

Below is a reminder of some of PFLA’s best management practices for managing the seasonal influx of water onto your property.

Road management IS water management.

A well-planned and constructed roadway will minimize potential problems, but a regular maintenance program is needed to ensure the long-term stability of a road system. In most cases you’ll be able to carry out an effective road maintenance program with hand tools, some gravel and a truck.

Regular inspections should be carried out, with additional checks after heavy rains.

New roads and roads with heavy traffic should get special attention—a little shovel work early in the season can prevent larger problems later on. Potential trouble areas, such as wet spots, culverts and steep grades should be noted.

After storms or heavy rainfall, branches, leaves and debris can block ditches, culverts and crossing structures. Once it’s safe, drive or walk along your roads and trails. Check to make sure:

  • Ditches are functional
  • Culverts are unobstructed
  • Cross ditches are intact and operational

Maintenance inspections — Check all drainage structures and remove debris from ditches and culverts. Watch ditches for flooding or signs of bank erosion that may signal the need for more, or larger, culverts. Check inlets and outlets of culverts for scouring.

Road grading — Carried out as needed to maintain road shape and surface, depending on the size of operations and frequency of use. Ruts and potholes should be filled in before spring rains. Spur roads not needed all the time, can be put to ‘bed’ by digging short drainage ditches (water bars) across them to control winter and spring runoffs.

Water bars — Constructed by excavator, grader, or hand tools, water bars are an effective means of directing road run-off away from the running surface of the road and into drainage structures or filter strips.

The key is to minimise opportunities for water to concentrate and gain momentum. Think about and find ways to disperse water—get it away from where it might interact with passing equipment, trucks, and vehicles, or come into contact with erodible materials.

A slightly cambered road running surface is also a very effective means to ensure that water is dispersed in small, slow moving quantities rather than being allowed to form rivulets on the road surface.

Grader berms — A berm is a wall or mound of dirt that keeps rainwater within a defined area. Left entire they direct water and separate road run off from ditch water for long distances. With carefully positioned breaks (gaps) they can be used to collect water from certain spots and deposit water in others. With no grader berms, road run off is less likely to concentrate and gain velocity, and will leave the road wherever the slope permits.

Cut banks can be vegetated to combat erosion. Fast-establishing vegetation, particularly clovers and grasses, are probably the most effective and economical tool for stabilising fine sediment sources.

There are several commercial seed mixes available for varying roadside conditions (e.g., sunny, shady, wet or dry). If possible, carry grass seed and hand tools in your machines and vehicles and seed disturbed areas when conditions are favourable for good germination.

A wise landowner once said, “Carry a shovel and fix small problems before they become major problems.”