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

Wood panels and pallets

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


When operators use heavy machinery to carry out forest management activities, they may need to cross wetlands. This can damage the soils, aquatic habitat, and hydrology of a wetland. Wood panels and pallets can be assembled in the field or off-site and placed over a wetland to protect it. Operators can then move machinery over the wetland on top of these temporary surfaces.

Where used

Wood panels and pallets work well on most wetland soils that are flat (less than 4 percent grade). The area should be free of large rocks and other high spots. Because skidding will move and abrade wood panels and pallets, it's best to use them in conjunction with hauling and forwarding.


Wood panels are built from dense hardwood (usually oak) lumber planking nailed together to form a two-layer crossing. Wood pallets are available commercially. They are three-layered and made from dense hardwood planks that are nailed together. In some wood pallets, top and bottom pieces are interconnected similar to a traditional pallet. In others, top and bottom pieces are separate and interlock during installation to prevent sideways movement. Install each option over a nonwoven geotextile.

When building a wood panel:

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.

When installing wood panels and pallets:



Operators can build wood panels on-site. They can buy wood pallets locally. Both options are relatively inexpensive and are easy to install, maintain, and remove.


Operators can't use either option in areas with rocks or other firm high spots. You may need a forklift to install and remove pallets. Under slippery conditions, you may need to use an additional tractive surface.


Inspect wood panels and pallets during and between uses, replacing broken pieces and loosened or missing nails.

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-07010 1998


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