Wetland BMP Knowledge Exchange
Incorporating Wetland Knowledge into Road Developments
Chris Smith, Head Boreal Conservation Programs, Ducks Unlimited Canada, P.O Box 335, Cranberry Portage, MB R0B 0H0, Bus: (204) 620-0328, Email:
Wetlands in the boreal forest can be classified as bogs, fens, swamps, marshes, and shallow open water according to their soils (organic vs. mineral), water chemistry, water flow, water table, and vegetation communities. The ability to classify wetlands and understand differences in ecology and hydrology of different wetland classes will help resource road planners and operators make decisions on where and how to build roads. Linear developments, such as roads, through wetlands may impede wetland hyrdology causing surface and subsurface water to pond in upslope locations. Over time, these changes lead to tree loss upstream due to prolonged flooding, and divergent upstream and downstream vegetation communities. Building roads through wetlands also presents unique and often costly construction, maintenance, and safety challenges. Using DUC’s enhanced wetland classification (EWC), wetlands can be grouped according to their flow characteristics into stagnant, moving – slow lateral, moving – seasonally fluctuating, and inundated/flooded. In 2011 DUC received an SFI grant to work in partnership with LP Building Products, Weyerhaeuser, and FPInnovations, to develop and test log corduroy designs for crossing stagnant, moving – slow lateral, and moving – seasonally fluctuating wetlands. Monitoring results indicated that crossings did not impede water flow and 3 years post installation the crossings as built were working well. DUC believes that understanding wetland type and flow characteristics can inform long term and seasonal road crossing planning and construction techniques, and provide guidance for road decommissioning and reclamation/restoration. We believe that by working together, we can achieve our common goals of maintaining wetland hydrology, maintaining waterfowl and other wetland dependent wildlife habitat, improving road performance, reducing road maintenance costs, improving road safety, and reducing road decommissioning /reclamation costs.
Chris Smith is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and graduate of the University of Montana. He lived in northern Manitoba for over 35 years spending most of his career working in The Pas. In the early years he worked for Ducks Unlimited Canada as a regional biologist and later left to work as a wildlife biologist in forest management planning with Tolko Manitoba. In 2000 he returned to DUC where he has worked on boreal wetland conservation for the past 15 years. Over the years he has worked as a field biologist, helped develop forest industry best management practices, worked on environmental impact assessments and land-use planning initiatives. Chris is Head of Boreal Conservation Programs for DUC’s National Boreal Program which has a focus on public land conservation and is also responsible for coordinating forest industry partnerships. More recently his focus has been on projects that assist industry enhance their practices to conserve wetlands and government policy initiatives that balance protection and sustainable land use activities. He and his wife currently reside in Cranberry Portage near Flin Flon Manitoba.
Pile Supported Road Construction
Rob Udy, President and CEO; Lorne McNeilly, Business Development Manager, Landmark Solutions Ltd., 5350 46th Ave. SE - Box 87, Salmon Arm, BC V1E 4N2, Bus: (250) 804-0332, Email: ;
Traditional road construction techniques may not be adequate when crossing wetlands due to the difficulty in maintaining connectivity. Pile supported road construction techniques allow wetlands to function naturally while providing bearing capacity for heavy industrial traffic. Landmark Solutions Ltd. will share its experience driving timber piles to support arch footings, bridge abutments and road sections where fine textured or organic soils are encountered. Landmark will examine a case study where open water was crossed using a series of timber pile reinforced piers and short span bridges using single heading construction. This project utilized access mats to cap the timber piles as well as geosynthetic reinforced soils (GRS) contained within plastic sheet piling to form the abutments and piers. The resulting all-season road is rated to support CL 800 loading and is performing well after the first year of use. Building on its muskeg experience, Landmark will also discuss the possibility of a continuous causeway designed with minimal fill on top of piles and caps, effectively creating an elevated road and providing uninterrupted wetland function while achieving specified road design requirements.
Rob Udy is President and CEO of Landmark, and provides strategic direction for the Construction and Natural Resources departments. For more than 25 years, Rob has provided consulting services in environmental, forestry and construction fields. His practical approach and thorough understanding of natural systems and construction methods make him an ideal leader in this growing business. The Landmark team now provides common sense solutions and reliable services to clients throughout western Canada.
Lorne McNeilly is Business Development Manager, and brings more than 25 years of leadership experience to the Landmark team. As a former Woodlands Manager, Lorne has worked with major forest companies throughout BC to manage forest operations and supply manufacturing facilities. In addition to his operations and performance management background, Lorne provides leadership depth and perspective on resource challenges and opportunities.
Resource Roads and Wetlands: Road Construction Considerations
Mark Partington, R.P.F., M.Sc., Senior Researcher, FPInnovations, 570 Saint-Jean Blvd., Pointe-Claire, QC H9R 3J9, Bus: (514) 782-4525 Email:
Canada’s forested landscapes feature numerous wetlands, such as fens, bogs and swamps, which present environmental and operational challenges during the planning, construction and maintenance of resource roads. The low bearing capacity of in situ soils and the high soil moisture levels that dominate wetland environments necessitate optimized planning strategies, properly designed road infrastructure and cost-effective construction methods to achieve successful road performance. The inadequate bearing capacity of subgrade materials and the placement and installation of drainage and water-crossing structures needed to provide continued hydrologic function, are two key challenges for resource roads across wetlands. This presentation will describe the development and evaluation of resource road management and construction techniques and the application of alternative products and materials through the implementation of short and long-term studies and road performance evaluations. Examples of foundation design solutions and performance indicators will be discussed. The development of a national field guide on constructing and managing resource roads built cross wetlands will also be presented. The implementation of FPInnovations research results are expected to mitigate potential environmental impacts and reduce life cycle costs of resource roads and to be readily adopted by resource road construction personnel.
Mark Partington is a registered professional forester and is a senior researcher at FPInnovations with over 17 years of forest research and consulting experience. Mark has a Bachelor of Science in Forestry, a Master of Science in soil science and focuses his research on the environmental impacts of resource roads and forest harvest operations including providing support to industry and government initiatives to develop BMPs and policies and to meet government requirements and forest certification standards.