Headwaters Forest Road to Trail Conversion

Former abandoned logging road converted to a public access trail in the Headwaters Forest Reserve
Former abandoned logging road converted to a public access trail in the Headwaters Forest Reserve
Summary: 

PWA developed a treatment/conversion plan and oversaw improvements to the Elk River Trail in the Headwaters Forest Reserve.

Client: 
Bureau of Land Management
Location: 
Humboldt County, California
Project Lead (s): 
Chris Herbst

PWA was contracted to develop a treatment/conversion plan and oversee improvements to the Elk River Trail in the Headwaters Forest Reserve, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Elk River Trail is the primary access route for the public, and follows an old logging road traversing streamside and inner gorge slopes along the riparian corridor of the South Fork Elk River. The former road contained several failing stream crossings and potential landslides threatening to deliver large volumes of sediment into prime coho salmon spawning habitat. Between 2007 and 2009, PWA provided technical assistance to help implement erosion control and sediment reduction treatments on approximately 3 miles of road. The old logging road had been constructed using side-cast construction techniques, and was bermed and ditched for most of its length. PWA helped convert the first ~mile of road into a paved, ADA-compliant trail to provide wheelchair access for the disabled. The remaining length of road was completely reshaped and converted to a narrow, predominantly outsloped road/trail. Most of the stream crossings were converted to rock armored fill crossings and vented ford crossings. Though entirely accessible for vehicles and heavy equipment, the new route has the feel and appearance of a hiking trail and has been a great success in terms of public support, sediment reduction, and reduction of long-term maintenance costs. Approximately 19 stream crossings and 18 potential landslide sites were treated by excavating > 46,000 yd3 of soil and debris, effectively preempting the delivery of an estimated 16,000 yd3 of road related sediment to the S.F. Elk River. Additional trail improvements included reshaping and surfacing the BLM parking lot with permeable pavers, constructing a number of picnic bench landings, and adding several new interpretive sites. Attendance has increased significantly since these improvements were implemented. The project was completed in 2010 with a total budget of approximately $1,000,000.

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