Summer to Fall Road Maintenance

Boyd Norton, NW Washington Landowner Assistance Forester 

Road vegetated RamsdellRBefore we start, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in our forest road design and maintenance survey. The results are being used in a legislative report addressing small forest landowners’ progress in meeting the Forest Practices Rules for road maintenance and abandonment. We hope the report will help us make some gains in providing you assistance with maintaining and improving your forest roads!

Summer is here and timber is moving from the forest to the mills. Our mild winter and spring has made it possible to access higher elevations and cross normally wet areas earlier than in normally wet years. While it may seem like it’s rushing the season, summer is the best time to start thinking about the condition of your roads and preparing for fall and the return of wet weather.

So take a walk and check your roads! 

For active haul roads, make sure that:

  • Cut slopes within harvest units have been cleared of logging debris.
  • Logging debris has been removed from the ditches.
  • Bare cut and fill slopes are ready for seeding or to cover with straw to prevent erosion.
  • Cross drains are functional and their inlets are cleared of debris.
  • Damaged cross drains and crossings for typed waters have been repaired or replaced and energy dissipaters installed where needed.
  • Water bars are functional and tied into the ditch, skewed across the running surface and delivering runoff to stable soils. Water bars also need to be deep enough to control run off and allow for reforestation access.
  • Landing debris is in a stable location.
  • Gates or other barriers are installed or planned for to prevent access. 

For existing and inactive roads, check that:

  • Gates and other barriers are functional and don’t need repair.
  • Ditches are free of woody debris and functional.
  • Cross drains and water bars are functional. Driveable water bars have been maintained to keep run off from over-topping and eroding the road surface or fill slope.
  • Undersized cross drains have been replaced or removed (minimum diameter 18” in western Washington, 15” in eastern Washington).
  • Culverts in seasonal and perennial non-fish habitat streams (Ns, Np), are clear of debris and designed to pass flows from a 100 year storm event.
  • The road surface is graded, crowned, outsloped and in a condition to prevent sediment from entering a typed water.
  • Type F water crossings are free of debris. Crossings planned for use in the near future, should be able to carry flows from a 100 year flood event, as well as allowing passage of fish in all life stages.

If you’d like assistance with assessing your roads, contact Boyd Norton ( or submit a request online. Landowners with inadequate Type F crossings should contact the Family Forest Fish Passage Programyou can apply on-line or by contacting Laurie Cox directly (