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Extension > Environment > Trees and woodlands > Forest management practices fact sheet: Managing water series > Using logging debris or logs to build water bars

Using logging debris or logs to build water bars

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

Introduction

Water moving over forest roads and skid trails can cause erosion. Sediment deposited in streams, rivers, and lakes can hurt fish and other aquatic organisms. Nutrients and chemicals attached to soil can pollute water.

Logs or logging debris (slash) consisting of branches, broken tops, and brush can be used to create temporary water bars. Operators build logging debris water bars across traffic surfaces to divert water into vegetated areas. This reduces erosion and helps maintain the road. Water bars made from logging debris are not as effective as those made from soil, since water can filter through. Still, they can be used in many applications. They work best in low traffic areas with low slopes.

Where used

Log and slash water bars are best placed where use of more substantial water diversion options is limited, for example, on roads and trails with limited traffic or slope, or when forest operations are shut down for a short time. They also can be used when soil is frozen or when shallow, rocky soils make it difficult to build earth-berm water bars.

Application

slash-water-bar

Slash water bar

When building a slash water bar:

Advantages

Log and slash water bars can be easily made from material at the site. They can be used on frozen soils or rocky areas. If used properly, they can reduce overall costs for maintaining the road.

Disadvantages

Constructing logging slash water bars takes time and resources. The water bars need to be maintained. You may need to fill ruts to divert water with slash water bars. Logging slash water bars are less effective than other water diversion devices. They require caution when blading during road or trail maintenance.

Maintenance

Check and rebuild water bars periodically to ensure that there are no gaps.

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

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