Of course nothing better prepares you during planning than visiting the site. During this time, you can meet with the landowner or forester, determine the most efficient and practical layout, and begin making plans to install BMPs. The previous pages already presented a number of tools that will aid in your decision making and planning process, but those tools can’t show you the actual conditions on the ground. For that, you need site reconnaissance. Here are a few things to look for or keep in mind when visiting the tract:
- Roads –Existing roads on the tract may be used for your operation, but make sure they are properly located and in usable condition;
- Streams –Are there any streams, ponds, wetlands or wet areas on the tract? Knowing the location of these water features will help you to determine the layout of your operation, locate areas that will need to be protected or avoided, and can help determine if stream crossings can be avoided;
- Crossings –Are crossings necessary? If you must cross a stream, the site visit can help you determine the best place to cross. Look for places that have level firm banks and are located in a straight section of the stream;
- Landings –Look for the best locations for your decks and skid trails. Locate areas away from natural drainage channels and balance skidding distances against road densities for the most efficient operations;
- Topography –Steeper slopes will require more BMPs, while flatter sites may have “ponding” issues; and
- Soil type –How well does it drain? How erosive is it? Will it support your equipment? What type of BMPs will be needed? Remember, it is usually easier to make waterbars on clay soils than sandy soils.