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Extension > Environment > Trees and woodlands > Forest management practices fact sheet: Crossing options series > Wood mats

Wood mats

Best Management Practices (BMPs) can prevent or minimize the impact of forestry activities on rivers, lakes, streams, groundwater, wetlands, and visual quality.


Loggers sometimes need to cross wetlands with vehicles and other heavy equipment. This can damage wetland soils, aquatic habitat, and hydrology. Temporary crossings can minimize these impacts.

Wood mats provide surfaces that protect wetlands during hauling or forwarding operations. They are made from sawn hardwoods or round logs that are cabled together and placed on top of nonwoven geotextile.

Where used

Use wood mats on wetland soils or existing road beds. The surface should be flat (maximum grade 4 percent) and free of high spots (e.g., stumps and large rocks). Because skidding will move and abrade the mat, this option is best limited to hauling and forwarding. Mats can help stabilize approaches to stream crossings.


Wood mats consist of cants, sawn dense hardwoods (usually oak), or round logs cabled together. When building and installing a wood mat:

Geotextile is a fabric mat that allows water to drain through it. It supports material placed on top of it and makes removal of that material easier.


Wood mats can be built on site or locally using readily available materials. They are easy to install, remove, and repair.


Wood mats can't be used in areas with rocks or other firm high spots. The surface may not have adequate traction under wet conditions unless an additional tractive surface is applied.


Inspect wood mats during and between uses to make sure no sections are broken. Repair broken pieces by disconnecting the cable clamps and sliding off and replacing broken sections.

University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Logger Education Program, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan State University Extension, USDA Forest Service, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

WW-07009 1998


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