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Locating Roads, Landings and Quarries

What is the major challenge when planning the location of roads on karst terrain?

A major area of potential conflict with road locations is the fact that logging roads are often located along ridges and areas of higher elevation to achieve easier access to timber and maximum deflection for harvesting. These same locations are also where the greatest density of exposed epikarst is typically found. Ideally, roads should not be located on exposed, well-developed epikarst. However, in many cases, there may not be a viable alternative for locating the road. These two issues – the need to protect exposed epikarst and the need for efficient access to timber – require innovative management approaches. These are discussed in detail in the lesson on Constructing Roads, Landings and Quarries.

The following section summarizes the recommended best management practices for locating roads, landings and quarries. As these are only brief summaries, you should also check out more detailed information in the Karst Management Handbook for British Columbia.

Low and Moderate Vulnerability Areas

The following best management practices are recommended:

  • Use existing roads, landings and quarries wherever possible.
  • Locate quarries on a site-specific basis while accounting for the nature of karst resources in the area.
  • Locate roads and landings to minimize deep cuts and fills.
  • Locate roads, landings and quarries to maintain natural surface drainage patterns as much as possible.
  • Avoid locating roads, landings, spoil sites and/or equipment turnaround/turnout sites near surface karst features, cave entrances, or exposed epikarst.
  • Avoid locating roads, landings and quarries within 100 metres of caves known to have fragile formations or known/suspected habitats of bats or other wildlife sensitive to disturbances.
  • Avoid facilitating public access to sensitive or hazardous karst areas.
  • Locate storage areas for fuel and other hazardous materials off karst terrain or at least on low vulnerability karst areas (except for daily fuel requirements).

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High Vulnerability Areas

In addition to the recommendations for low and moderate vulnerability areas, the following best management practices are recommended on high vulnerability areas:

  • Limit the planning of new roads and landings to only those required for local timber access or for crossing short sections of high vulnerability karst.
  • Plan to use overlanding road construction techniques as much as possible on exposed epikarst.
  • Avoid locating mainline or long-term roads and landings on well-developed epikarst. Limit roads on these areas to temporary roads that can be readily rehabilitated.
  • Avoid locating roads over caves known to have thin ceilings (see Figure 6-1).
  • Avoid locating roads over sinking streams, intermittent or ephemeral channels and dry valleys.
  • Avoid locating bridge crossings at topographical low points.
  • Avoid quarrying on high vulnerability karst if possible. (Use adjacent lower vulnerability karst areas or seek the advice of a qualified professional for appropriate site selection.)

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