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NCFS-Home >> Water Quality >> Bridgemats, Dragline Mats & Skidder Bridges

Bridgemats, Dragline Mats & Skidder Bridges

What is a Bridgemat?

A bridgemat consists of a panel that can be used to establish temporary crossing over streams, ditches or small water channels. Sometimes these are also called dragline mats, skidder bridges or pontoon bridges. Most bridgemats are constructed either of wood timbers or fabricated steel beams and panels (see pictured below). Research is being done in other parts of the country to test the use of engineered lumber and/or composite materials.

To maximize water quality protection, it is recommended that stream, creek or ditch crossings be avoided if at all possible during forestry operations. However, if a crossing is needed, temporarily installed bridgemats may be used.

Using bridgemats correctly can protect water resources from soil, mud, tree debris and other pollutants that may get into the water when using other methods to cross a water channel.

Bridgemats can be very economical and efficient to use over the long run. Installing a bridgemat is normally much faster than installing culverts, fords or building corduroy crossings. The reduction in set-up and rehab time can help cut operating costs related to harvesting operations or other forestry activities on a tract of land.

Bridgemat Education & Protection Project

To help protect the waters of North Carolina and promote the use of bridgemats, the N.C. Forest Service (NCFS) allows loggers and timber buyers to borrow the NCFS's bridgemats for use during forestry-related operations. The NCFS has so far acquired bridgemats through water quality protection grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Nonpoint Source 319-Program and the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership.

If you are interested in borrowing a set of bridgemats, click on your area of interest for contact information at one of these NCFS district offices.

Status reports on this project are available below:

NOTE: The NCFS cannot pick-up or deliver bridgemats to your job site. You must arrange for transport at your own expense to/from the designated staging location.

Table 1: NCFS Offices Loaning Bridgemats
Western NC Central NC Eastern NC
Murphy / Sylva
District 9

Asheville / Marion
District 1

Lenoir / Wilkesboro
District 2

Statesville / Monroe
District 12
Burlington / RTP
District 11

Rockingham / Pittsboro
District 3

Lumberton / Smithfield
District 6

Asheboro / Lexington
District 10
Goldsboro / Rocky Mount
District 5

Elizabeth City / Edenton
District 7

Windsor / Williamston
Bertie County Office

Whiteville / Wilmington
District 8

Tips for Using Bridgemats

  • Butt bridgemat panel edges tightly together and do not allow gaps between panels. Gaps allow debris to fall down into the water.
  • Bridgemats should be installed for crossings even when little or no water is in the stream or ditch channel. Doing so will help protect the soil in the streambank and stream bottom.
  • Erosion control BMPs should be installed along the approachways to the bridgemat crossing to keep sediment out of the creek. Examples include turnouts, diversions, dips and brush barriers.
  • Prevent dirt and debris from entering the stream or ditch as you install, use and remove the bridgemats.
  • Frequently inspect the bridgemats and adjust for slippage or panel integrity.
This page updated: Thursday, August 22, 2019 13:42

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