Wednesday, May 8, 2019

UPDATE - Efficacy of Lincoln Log No-Dig Trail Delineators

May 2019 Review of Lincoln Log Barriers Installed
in October 2018 - Post Carr Fire Recovery Update
BLM Chappie-Shasta OHV Area

Efficacy is the ability of achieving a goal or objective to produce the intended result.  In the case of post-wildfire recovery of recreation facilities those efforts often include travel management-related projects to reestablish delineation of designated routes, highlight a trail entrance, or protect natural or cultural resources.

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.

Lincoln Log Barriers Installed in Oct. 2018

Many land management agencies have historically relied on a post wildfire model to “buy and replace” milled timber barriers to meet desired travel management objectives. Often purchasing, constructing, and transporting a milled timber barrier with footings and rebar stakes to its destination at a remote trailhead or cultural site can exceed $100 to $150 dollars each.

While milled timber barriers or trail delineators 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 milled timber barriers vs. increased use of “free” on-site dead or dying trees to construct “lincoln log” trail delineators.

Milled Timber Barriers Installed in Oct. 2018
BLM Chappie Shasta OHV Area

To review the effectiveness of lincoln log delineators to restrict OHV travel on routes impacted by dozer lines, QWR reviewed post-Carr Fire recovery efforts at the Chappie-Shasta OHV Area near Redding, California.

In October of 2018, OHV volunteers and BLM recreation staff installed both milled timber and non-dig lincoln log barriers/trail delineators on several dozer lines created during fire suppression efforts.

The “No Dig” Strike Team was directed to a dozer line that needed barriers installed. The team cut various lengths of dead trees on-site which were then laid into the v-notches of natural footings also cut on-site from fire damaged trees. 

This created a stable natural-looking no-dig barrier/delineator that highlighted the designated path of vehicle travel and/or the area that was protected. 

A recent field review in May 2019 showed those no-dig lincoln log barriers were meeting their management objective and were just as effective to date as the milled timber barriers.

May 2019 Review of Milled Timber Barriers that were
Installed in Oct. 2018 - BLM Chappie Shasta OHV Area

QWR believes that some credit to the effectiveness of both the no-dig and milled timber barriers can be attributed to ongoing travel management efforts by the Forest Service, BLM, and the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division to encourage OHV travel on designated roads, trails, and areas.

Freshly Installed Lincoln Log Trail Delineators Installed
May 2019 at Post River Fire Recovery Project
BLM Cow Mountain OHV Area

While the 2005 Forest Service Travel Management Rule that directed all National Forests to designate roads, trails and areas for motorized use was at the time controversial, it appears that post-2005 travel management planning efforts and subsequent implementation strategies may be contributing to the user community’s willingness to stay on designated routes at popular OHV areas in the West that are at risk from intense wildfires.
Lincoln log barriers/delineators are just one of many post wildfire recovery travel management tools that may not be as effective in high use areas such as campgrounds and staging areas where milled timber or rock barriers are more appropriate.

However in more remote areas where OHV recreationists are simply passing through on a designated road or trail, the no dig delineator might prove to be a more cost-effective option.