To many people, logging in the backcountry is a disturbing thought yet we continue to want our homes, stores and forest roads that take us to breathtaking destinations. First lets go back and look at the anatomy of a forest road. We can call these forest roads backroads, but they were all built as logging roads for timber harvest. For decades these roads were built by and maintained by timber revenues. With severe budget cuts and no logging generating revenues, roads are continually being closed and public access is being lost forever.
Our forest roads should never look like this but a timber harvest would pay for day-lighting the road and improved drainage.
With very little revenues for road repairs after winter storms, many roads are now being closed for liability reasons and risk of further siltation into rivers and streams. There are a couple of different types of logging contracts. One is thinning along roads, this has a primary focus of removing trees endangering the road structure and deciduous trees constantly shading and not allowing the road to ever dry out. Forest roads just like any other living thing is a lot healthier if it gets a bit of sunshine! A road that is constantly saturated with water is a high maintenance road and more prone to erosion, potholes and rusting culverts. When a larger timber harvest happens equipment is moved in to upgrade the road for the upcoming truck traffic. This could consist of ditching and replacing culverts, mowing brush, grading and resurfacing the roadbed with new gravel.
The scenic Forest Road drive to White Chuck Ridge
It is easy to see the destruction of logging but it is harder to see the evolution of it. Forest fires and logging have several things in common. In both cases a forest canopy is opened up and new vegetation begins to grow becoming a foraging area for many types of wildlife. Hundreds of years ago these animals once foraged in the valleys below however this is now where human habitat is. One big difference is a forest fire will not add funding to improve our roads nor keep them open.