Roads in Managed Forests


To address the important role forest roads play in accessing public and private managed forestlands and providing appropriate safeguards to mitigate impacts.


Permanent and temporary roads used to access public and private forestlands for management purposes.


The Society of American Foresters (SAF) believes forest roads are essential infrastructure that provide crucial access for sustainably managing our nation’s forestlands with their many critical environmental, economic, and societal benefits. Timber harvesting, prescribed burning, wildfire control, recreational access, and habitat and watershed improvement all require regular access on well-constructed and maintained road systems. SAF supports policies and programs that help fund construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of these essential forest roads.

There are widely developed and accepted best management practices (BMPs) to guide forestry professionals in constructing, maintaining, stabilizing, and retiring forest roads depending on the intended use and expected traffic. SAF supports and promotes the implementation, education, and monitoring of BMPs as the best method to manage forest roads. 

SAF recognizes that some roadless areas on forestlands may have special qualities that deserve protection, such as providing for remote recreation or protecting rare plant or animal communities. These areas can manifest forest health problems, and access may be needed to control insect and disease outbreaks or to reduce hazardous fuels that foster stand-replacing wildfire threatening human communities, watersheds, and wildlife habitat. In these instances, SAF favors access that maintains the roadless character of the area consistent with forest management plans and proper stakeholder input.

Approved: December 2020

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Roads in Managed Forests
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