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Virginia Tech Forest Road and Bladed Skid Trail Cost Estimation Method

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Forest road construction and maintenance can be one of the more expensive components of timber harvesting, and accurately estimating costs can greatly influence the profitability of timber acquisitions. Road costs can be estimated by previous personal experience, machine rate estimates, acquisition of contractor bids, or spreadsheets. The purpose of the Virginia Tech Forest Road Cost Method is to provide practicing foresters with a simple tool for estimating costs associated with the construction, maintenance, and closure of minimum standard forest roads and bladed skid trails. This method consists of five cost categories: stream crossings, road construction, improvement/maintenance of existing roads, bladed skid trail construction, and closure. Cost estimates are based on published information, as well as inquiries of stone quarries, excavation companies, and pers. comm. with professionals who are knowledgeable about forest road construction and maintenance in the southeast. Cost inputs can be easily modified by the user to reflect local conditions. The method requires users to have a basic knowledge of desired road standards, road templates, and local terrain. Additional knowledge of local costs is helpful in identifying the proper monetary values to assign to each category within the spreadsheet. Field testing indicates that the method can provide useful cost estimates for field foresters and others who need to quickly estimate road construction/maintenance costs.
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Keywords: best management practices (BMP); forest operations; harvesting costs

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-02-01

More about this publication?
  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Southern Journal of Applied Forestry covers an area from Virginia and Kentucky south to as far west as Oklahoma and east Texas.
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