Is Your Camp Road a Threat to the Lake?

posted Aug 11, 2015, 2:08 PM by Joseph Bickard
August 11, 2015 - Belgrade-As we cut pathways through the woods surrounding our lakes, we create channels from runoff. These pathways have grown to become our current camp roads. No one ever planned them. Most of them just grew-foot path (or cow path!), driveway track to one or two camps, ultimately to 10-20 camps. Or they started as tote roads, for moving logs out of the woods. Some were even planned as roads to the shore, but the designers took the shortest route-straight down the hill!

There are over 450 named camp roads around the Belgrade Lakes watershed. Each one of them a potential threat to the quality of our lakes. Many roads have little or no crown, poor (or non-existent) ditches, and failing culverts. They are often too steep.
What can we do? Ditches can be added (sometimes), culverts can be replaced. You can add waterbars to steep roads, turning the water off the road before it becomes a problem. Steep slopes can have different surface materials. Typically the best surface material is crushed gravel (not screened-crushed, it holds together better). From there you can go to recycled asphalt, “bluestone” or if the slope is extreme, paving is an option. When all else fails to curb erosion, asphalt can be the answer.

Maintaining camp roads so that they do not become an issue is very important. Support your local Road Association! Having a good camp road association, supported by the property owners, is crucial. An annual dues (or road fees) payment allows the road “czar” to practice regular maintenance and upgrading. Camp roads should be grades twice a year (minimum)-spring and fall. New gravel should be added regularly-both rain and wind remove gravel from the road. The “average” gravel road with 200 car trips per day (that’s 4 trips out and back from each of 50 camps) can lose up to 500 tons of soil in the form of dust per year! And remember you paid to have that gravel hauled in and spread! Think about a dust control system using calcium chloride or some other binder.

The Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance has several booklets and pamphlets on camp roads and maintenance. The Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District is another source of information and expertise on roads.

Staff Writer, BRCA Newsletter, Spring 2015