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Building a creek timber bridge

If the stream is small and has firm, stable banks, it's fairly easy to build a bridge over it.

It’s tough to get across a small ravine on your land that has water running through it during rainy stretches. Martin Melville is the owner of a forestry services company and says building a timber bridge over a small stream is a good solution.

Before you lay the first log, be sure to check your local ordinances. You might need a permit to cross any kind of ravine with running water in it. After that, Melville says to find the right crossing location.

"You want to try to find a spot where your approach is relatively level from both sides, and that you can cross the creek or ravine as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. It minimizes site impact and it also tends to make things more stable," says Melville. "Let's say you've got a 10' bridge, and it rises 1' from one side to the other. That's not going to be a problem. If it rises 3', you'll have traction problems when you go to drive across it."
 
The wood you use depends on your region, but Melville says to choose something that's naturally decay-resistant. Rough-cut lumber can be found at a local lumber yard or sawmill. You can also go out to your timber, cut down logs, and use them whole.

When Melville builds a timber bridge, he makes it extra sturdy.
 
"I'll lay a half-a-dozen I'll call them stringers, across the creek perpendicular to the bank. And then I'll take what amounts to pulpwood, it's essentially material that's 4"-6" in diameter, and lay it across the stringer so it's parallel to the banks," he says. "Then what I've been doing is using small-diameter aircraft cable. I wound the cable around the stringers and around the pulpwood."

Melville says to periodically check the structural integrity of the bridge. If any part of shows decay, that piece will need to be replaced.

Find more tips for building a timber bridge across a creek

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