It’s already well known that timber mats can make it much easier to transport heavy construction equipment in order to carry out a wintertime project — whether it’s building a pipeline, transmission line, or something else. However, what’s less discussed is how mats can be used directly in ecological mitigation and conservation planning.
When a pipeline in a wetland area of Michigan needed to be inspected and repaired in 2013, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service emphasized the importance of preserving the habitat of the Hine’s Emerald dragonfly. The dragonfly is a rare and endangered species known to inhabit parts of the state, in addition to northeastern Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Ontario. Therefore, plans were made so that any impact upon the area’s soil would be kept to a minimum
In order to avoid soil compaction and achieve the goal of minimizing any negative impact on the environment, conservation planning called for the utilization of timber mats placed over the frost and ice, otherwise known as a “froze road.”
One of the main concerns was that any impact would threaten the Hine’s Emerald dragonfly’s larvae; negatively impacting adult dragonflies was a lesser concern. In addition to emphasizing minimal soil disturbance, special attention was also paid to how any impact would be reversed once the work was complete.
Restoration efforts included re-vegetation, along with the continued monitoring of the site through the growing season. You can read more about the plan via a PDF posted on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website.
The Michigan pipeline maintenance project carried out in 2013 is just one of many examples of timber mats being used in conservation planning. For generation conservation guidelines, we recommend checking out the Ecological Mitigation Measures webpage at indianaffairs.gov.