Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.
Roads are an important asset for a woodland owner. Roads give access to the woods by foot and or vehicle, for some or all of the year. This allows for recreation, management activities such as planting, weed control or harvest, and also fire protection. Roads are an important piece of a property’s infrastructure along with buildings or ponds, and represent a significant financial investment.
Like other assets such as your house, car, pond or barn, roads need to be maintained to keep their practical values noted above, as well as value of investment. But in contrast to the buildings or other infrastructure on your property, with a road, a woodland owner takes on some legal responsibilities to maintain them. That is because, for all their benefits to a landowner, road systems also have the potential to do significant harm to the environment by creating barriers to fish passage or allowing erosion and delivery of sediment to streams. A forest landowner is expected to keep roads in good repair to prevent such harm to the environment. The type, timing and intensity of maintenance will depend on the type of road, location, construction and its use: A rock road used to haul logs down a valley in the winter is very different from a dirt road along a ridge with light seasonal use. Continue reading