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Thread: Clearing a trail question

  1. #1
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    Default Clearing a trail question

    Hey guys,

    As I continue to do research on buying land over the counter from the state I have a question about clearing trails. I am looking at buying some land near Tok that is about a mile off of a maintained road. In order to get to the property I would need to clear a wider trail. I see that there is a trail that runs along the sundivision "road". To widen this trail do I need permits, etc to cut trees, remove brush etc. I am planning on building a cabin there and in a year or so live there full time.

    So my question is basicly does one need a permit to clear a trail on surveyed roads in a subdivision?

  2. #2
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Who owns the land that the trail is on? If it's private property, ask the owner.

    If it is an officially subdivided area and the trail runs down what will be a future road according to the surveys, then you can clear to your heart's content as long as you stay within the published road right of way.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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    Member Maast's Avatar
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    I got real close to buying land a few years ago and looked into road building. Alaska statues say that there is a 25 foot easement either side of the centerline of the property lines for road building.

    The road can be anything from a dirt snowmobile/ATV trail all the way up to asphalt, your choice - however the state/county will not pick up maintenance on your road unless you build it to their specs, and even then they still might not pick up the maintenance on it.

    So yes, you can build any kind of unimproved road along the property lines for access to your property.

    A note on building a road - the three most important things are: drainage, drainage and drainage. Water is the enemy of all roads.

    The best way to build your road is to take the dirt from trenches along the sides of it and pile that dirt up in the center and flatten it out. The idea is to get a road with two drainage ditches on either side of it. Use a minimum width of 8 feet to allow for trailers and such. Use culverts whereever you see a water trickle.
    Otherwise you're going to get a rutted boggy mess with even just a little bit of traffic.

    If you decide to surface your road I'd recommend using quarry process gravel (AKA crushed gravel) with about 5% fines in it, the angular gravel interlocks together and the fines act as a binder, clay is a great binder too. The stones should be no bigger than half the size of your fist. Thumb size is optimum.

    BTW: D1 round gravel surfaces don't last very long, its almost as bad as just laying out ballbearings - the gravel will rut and scatter almost immediately.

    This is probably more than you wanted to know but its good info to keep in mind.

  4. #4
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    Thanks Joat. I figured I could clear the trail if it was on the surveyed road which it is. The trail is on a surveyed road so what I gather is that no permit is required. I assume I can use the tree as I see fit also, meaning cut them for firewood or what ever.

    Masst thanks for the education on road building. I figure I might have to improve it at some point so knowing this will help. I have read that putting down landscaping cloth would help keep the gravel from sinking into the mud for a bit.

  5. #5

    Default Check before cutting

    Make sure you check with whatever governing body manages the land that the propery is on or the "trail" is passing through. Take the information from the forum as far as you like, but it isn't going to help you any if you end up in court fighting a ticket/fine/etc... BLM may be a good source if they manage those lands.

    If you have been around here a while, you may know the story of the Pilgrim family and their troubles when they attempted to improve their access which had an easment of it's own. I'm sure their's was a different situation at least slightly from yours, but you really should check to make sure.

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    Thanks anchskier for the heads up. Yea I always check with the authorities before actually doing any work. Like you you said the info here only goes so far. I believe in doing everything by the book that way there are no hidden surprises and everyone is happy.

    This is a great place to start planning and get input from others before actually getting the offical word on what is actually allowed. It makes me aware of questions I need to ask, etc.

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    Most likely it is state land as you said that your property was in a subdivision. There is no county, borough or governing body around tok to check with other then the state. You might want to talk to the tok dot for some insite. Stick to the subdivsion plat row and you should be fine. The "road" probably has good gravel below it as tok sits on a natural gravel pit with very little top soil. Clearing the row & filling the wet spots maybe all that is required to get a drivable surface. Remember it will be a paved white from Oct through april. And no it will not be maintained other then by you.

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    Hey John thanks for the tips. When you say Tok dot do you mean dept. of transportation. As far as no borough or governing body in Tok is one of the things that is drawing me to Tok. Here in CA it is getting crazy. I grew up in La. (Louisiana) and spent 18 months in Fairbanks a few years ago. I really like the people, the winter and the hunting and fishing. I have been slowly planning and saving to move up there and am finally to the point I am ready to buy some land. I see you are in Tok so I might have a bunch of questions for you...if you will. Just let me know if I can PM you. Thanks again. White asphalt...cool (really cool...ok cold!)

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    If you are buying state land then you will be dealing with the DNR. They will have all of the answers you need for easment and access. I don't think the state can sell you land that does not have legal access. The DNR is very helpful and it is their job. Don't take anyones word here as gospel (no offense to everyone here.) If the DNR says it get a name and preferably in writing. You will not have any court problems if they say it (the DNR will have to go to court.)

    also this might help you:

    http://mapper.landrecords.info/

    http://dnr.alaska.gov/

    http://plats.landrecords.info/
    this one is kind-of hard to figure out at first but it can be a great tool once you figure it out.
    That's what she said...

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    JamesM, are you looking to be able to drive a car/truck into your property or just ATVs/snowmachines?

    If just smaller vehicles, I'd make certain I knew where the platted right of way is at, program the centerline into a GPS, get your ATV and a chainsaw and start heading for your lot. I wouldn't worry about permits and permission (again, only if you know where the legal ROW is).

    If you are looking to drive a road vehicle in, then I'd look into it a lot more. If you have to fill any wetlands or build and bridges then you will likely need permits.

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    Matjpow, you are right about getting the answers from the governing authorities. I have some "training" on that here in CA. Thanks for the links also. The land is in a subdivision so it has "roads" shown...just not in and they may never be there...that I understand. I know that if a road goes to the property its because I put it in!

    Nrick, in the beginning I am looking to just get an atv or snow machine to the land. But eventualy I would like to get my Jeep and truck to the property. In the beginning I just want to be able to get building supplies in. I do have the plat map that shows the gps coordinates of the roads.

    I will check with the authorities before I start clearing a path...just to be sure. Thanks for the guidence guys.

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    Based on experience, if you are just making an ATV/snowmachine trial within a platted ROW, no one's going to bother you if you just "do it." You'll find that you'll avoid the bigger trees simply because they are more of a hassle and driving over a large stump gets old quick. Cutting down mature trees can sometimes get a reaction out of someone.

    Also, if there is an existing foot trail, don't assume it is in the ROW and widen it out. Make sure you verify yourself that you are in the ROW.

    I think you'll also find that some of your neighbors will patiently wait until you are done before building on their lots.

    Also, if you haven't done this before. Hauling in materials is 100 times easier in the winter using a snowmachine/sled than in the summer with an ATV/trailer.

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    NRick, Thanks for all the advice. I will absoluty make sure I clear on the platted/surveyed "road" I do have a GPS and can plug in the numbers and confirm the route to take. I want to find a few survey markers or trees that I can confirm my GPS numbers on. Then when I feel confident I'll figure out a trail. The last thing I want to do is infringe on some one elses property. Heck that is why I am moving up there! (OK...one of many reasons...)

    I agree that if I get a decent trail / road the other properties will probaly start to get developed. But that is the way it goes I guess.

    As far as hauling season I agree from my research that winter hauling is the easist season to haul in. I only have a mile, but I realize that could be the longest mile in my life! But none the less I am looking forward to it!

    I figure I will try and meet some of the neighbors when I get up there and let them know I will be in the area. Ya know just some common courtesy.

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    If you are hunting for lot corners/monuments the absolute best time is right after the snow melts in the spring. Last year's vegetation will be matted down from the snow and the new vegetation won't have started growing yet. Here in southcentral that's usually early May.

    If you wait until late June or later, finding markers can be a real scavanger hunt! Be sure to flag each one you find. I wrap bright pink flagging tape around the marker itself and then put a couple on nearby tree branches about eye level.

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    Thanks for the advice again!

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    Metal detectors are a huge help for finding lot corners. I've done the measure and scrape the ground till you find a pin and a it isn't fun. The ones surveyors use are expensive but I bet just a normal metal detector would work fine.

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    barrelroll...good tip! Thanks

  18. #18
    RMK
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    Default The answer depends on location

    James,

    You mentioned the Tok area. That's probably a good thing. The Mat-Su Borough has a whole bunch of regulations and permit requirements now.

    Many people in the MSB just "do it" and see if anything comes of it. I can't say I blame them.

    The MSB now requires a permit for doing something as simple as clearing brush in a public right of way. (called a right of way construction permit)

    In 2008 the MSB adopted a whole new code system. Many of the codes sound as if they were copied from Anchorage ordinances. They don't make a lot of sense when applied to "off the grid" property.

    Good Luck with the property and getting to it. I know I had a heck of a time in the MSB.


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    Thanks for the info RMK. That is one of the major reasons I am buying there. There is just way to much government control over private property these days. Strange private property is not so private anymore. Don't pay your government rent (read property tax) and see how private your land is.

    Ok,
    Ill get off my box now....

  20. #20

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    Ever thought about just renting before you go full tilt boogie,least for a season?

    ak4195

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