Preventing Erosion on Roads and Trails

 Spring runoff can wreak havoc on the easement road through our Kettle Falls property.  After burying my truck to the axles following the winter of 2010, I was determined to find a solution.  I recalled seeing rubber water bars installed on jeeping trails to prevent erosion.  After a little research I found this:



Remember that high-faced bars are barriers to wheeled traffic. On trails that serve wheeled traffic, use either reinforced grade dips or rubber waterbars instead of traditional waterbars. Bikers do not like waterbars because of the "crash factor." It is important to place rubber waterbars such that wheeled vehicles cannot go around them (creating a water channel around the waterbar). Be sure to cut the rubber belting so that it bends easily under the wheel. A stiff rubber bar at a 45° to 60° angle can cause wrecks (Figure 23).

Rubber Belting Water Bar

Nailing and Cutting Detail 1


Nailing and Cutting Detail 2


Figure 23--Rubber belt waterbars are good choices on trails used by wheeled vehicles. They are not good as reinforced grade dips.


 I installed mine at the recommended 45 degree angle and anchored them in place by driving 2.5 foot long sections of 1/2 inch rebar on both sides.  They have endured five years of vehicle traffic and the occasional bulldozer.  The heavy equipment used to contruct a fireline for last summer's Renner Lake Fire finally did them in.  Here my materials list for their replacements (per waterbar):

(2 ea.) 2" X 6" X 16' pressure treated lumber

(1 ea.) 1/2" X 12" X 16' section rubber conveyor belt (I scored some used stuff on Craigslist)

(2 ea.) 1/2" X 10' sticks of rebar (cut into 2.5' sections)

(1 lb.) 3 1/2" X 10 exterior screws (this is more than enough)


  • I have not been able to find any lumber intended for direct burial so I expect to replace them in 5 years.
  • Rubber conveyor belt can be cut using a circular saw.  I cut mine nearly all the way through with my worm drive and then finished the rest with a utility knife.

  Ready For Assembly

Lumber and Conveyor Belt


Conveyor Belt Sandwich

Conveyor Belt Sandwich


Exterior Screws

Exterior Screws


Screws and Rebar

Screws and Rebar


Finished Water Bar

Finished Water Bar


Kettle Complex Fires Torch Hunting Spots

The summer of 2015 arrived early in the Pacific Northwest, first breaking 90 degrees in Spokane on June 7th.  On June 28th we hit a toasty 108 degrees.  For the month of June, 15 days were 90 degrees or hotter.  The rest of our summer followed suit with just one high temperature in July below the historical average.  By the time August rolled around our forests were parched.  Firefighting airtankers became a common site in the skies around Spokane.  By my count we had 5 fires within a 10 mile radius of our Nine Mile Falls home.  Fortunately they were all extinguished before causing widespread damage.  Other parts of Eastern Washington were not so fortunate with nearly 1 million acres burned.  The Okanagon complex alone burned over 400 square miles, the largest fire in Washington state history. 

Eastern Washington Wildfire Map


Smoke from the numerous wildfires made Spokane's air quality the worst on record since Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18th, 1980!

View of Spokane looking east.


The Renner Lake Fire (part of the Kettle Complex) reached our family property near Boyds on August 24th, 2015.  Believed to have been sparked by lightning on August 11th, 2015, the fire grew to nearly 9000 acres before being contained.  Our 20 acre parcel was actually used as part of the fire line to protect residential areas to the south!


Flames burn below the tree holding my Browning Range Ops trail camera -  it survived!


 Flames approach the tree holding my Bushnell Trophy Cam - it suffered some heat damage but still works!


Burned roots caused this tree to topple over.


The treestand platform was unscathed though the lower retaining straps were melted (hope the tree doesn't fall over)!


The firefighting crew cleared a wide swath along my access road to "back burn" to the main fire.



Looking East before "back burn"


Looking East after "back burn"



Goodbye Folks!



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