Thursday, October 4, 2018

POST WILDFIRE - No-Dig Natural Trail Delineators

Over the last 18 years, QWR has witnessed the increased frequency of reoccurring intense wildfires impacting popular federal recreation areas in the California and the West.

Pressure Treated OHV Route Delineator Destroyed by Wildfire

QWR believes this fire paradigm is going to be with us for the foreseeable future.  If that belief is correct, then it forces the trail community to reconsider more sustainable and cost-effective OHV management prescriptions including use of on-site natural wood products (i.e. downed fire damaged trees, etc.) to reestablish delineation of designated routes, highlight a trail entrance, or protect natural or cultural resources.

No Dig Natural Trail Delineators 
Deer Valley Trail - Eldorado National Forest

In September of 2017, QWR participated in a joint project between the U.S. Forest Service and Motherlode Rockcrawlers to armor portions of the historic Deer Valley OHV Trail. Part of that project included using downed trees as trail delineators to help protect a nearby alpine meadow from vehicle intrusion.

Post Wildfire Installation of Pressure Treated Wood Barriers
2012 Mill Fire - Mendocino National Forest

Using downed trees, trail crews comprised of Forest Service certified sawyers (both agency and volunteers) bucked up footings (about 20-24 inches in length) and then cut v-notches in said footings.

Example of Trail Delineator Using Downed Trees

Various lengths of trees were then laid into the v-notches of the footing which created a stable natural-looking no-dig delineator that highlighted the designated path of vehicle travel and/or the area that was protected.  

Tree Section in V-Notched Footing

Showing V-Notches in Footing

Over the last 10-15 years, QWR and other OHV volunteers have helped agencies with post wildfire recovery projects which often included installation of new pressure treated wood barriers to replace existing pressure treated barriers that were destroyed by wildfire.  Those efforts were time consuming and costly.

Example of Trail Entrance Using Downed Tree Sections

While that post wildfire model to “buy and replace” pressure treated barriers may still be valid and necessary depending on desired management objectives, QWR believes our new and more frequent wildfire reality requires us to reevaluate the automatic response to purchase miles of costly pressure treated wood vs. increased use of on-site dead or dying trees to construct trail delineators.

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