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Ways to cheaply block off an old road?

 
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We've had issues with thieves and trespassers accessing our homestead in their cars and motorbikes through an old logging track that goes to our place.

We hadn't had any trouble for a while, but just recently someone has broken the sturdy metal gate we had across it - looks like it's been rammed by a car.

Does anyone have ideas of ways to cheaply and securely block off access?
 
steward
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Do you need vehicle access down the road?  If not, putting some boulders in the road or dropping a tree across it might work.  Dirt bikes will be harder to stop...
 
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Hi drag something big there, tree, a lot of large boulders, a junk vehicle that doesn't run anymore?
 
pollinator
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If you have access to some large trees/logs, they worked well for me when having trespass issues.  I used some 50ft long alder logs about 15 inch diameter and some 30 inch diameter 12ft long maple logs to block access temporarily. It may only work well if you are nearby so you can hear trespassers cutting them with chainsaws or dragging them with trucks.  Root wads and stumps would be even better - especially if piled up. Even a dirt bike cannot navigate a pile of root wads.  Logs would at least slow them down and make them do a little work. A steep sided H├╝gelkultur with protruding logs and side ditches would work well for trucks and quads and street motorcycles.
 
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If you don't want to harm them, and simply wish for them to learn a valuable lesson, well then here's what you may wish to do. Check with your local sheriff and pest control service and see if it would be okay if you post NO TRESS-PASSING signs and  run a flimsy lightweight animal crossing over a small trench rut that may wash out on your side of the gate rains might make make. It will allow animals to cross that walk down the road, but cars might get stuck and make for a long walk. you may wish to post a sign with the number for the sheriff's department so they can call for help getting unstuck.

Also if you are willing to check with your local sheriff and if legal in your area consider if one would want to afford between 1 up to (3) of them Cellular Hunting Surveillance Cameras for remote viewing activity. (the cheapest price may be around $100 before shipping and handling online, or similar at the local farm/hunting store. They might even loan you one for a few days. If they live stream, all the better.
One could stage the cellular cams strategically at a slight but moderate distance off (on your side of the gate) , on the side, front, and rear so as to catch the criminals faces license plate numbers, make model vehicle, (you may wish to test the angles and the like before the spring rains come). Should the same parties crash your gate, get stuck, and try to dig push pull the vehicle out Cellular cams are safer and leave you some degree of subtlety.

Even small paint chips from a vehicle can be traced back to it's owner sometimes. If they are wearing masks they will likely remove them during physical exertion exposing themselves to the cameras.Notify the authorities if you have evidence to provide.

Check with your both your local sheriff and electrician to see if solar powered infrared lights can be wired in series to a trip switch/wire attached to your gate. If the gate is disturbed, the  IR comes on and the cameras may get a better set images. BIRD HOUSES MAKE GREAT CAMERA HIDES for capturing wildlife images, not sure how they would affect the wireless reception or the IR lighting though.

And lastly Your local game warden may be a good person to chat with as well about such things. Who knows, the criminals could potentially be poachers looking for a quick meal at your expense.

SOME OF MY BEST HUNTING was simply taking pictures with a camera. May you be blessed with the peace and the joy of taking pictures of nature.

Alternatively you could place some large boulders in the road with an acme sign and some scarecrow legs and boots sticking out from under them. Hope it all works out for you peacefully.

Good luck.

Larry
 
Kate Downham
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Thank you all!

We felled some trees across it once, as big as we were comfortable felling, but someone sawed through them! We could get a professional in to fell a massive tree, but that costs a lot, and it's hard to say whether these determined thieves would let that stand in their way or not.

What would be the best machine for moving boulders there? We don't have anything here that would do the job so would have to hire something. Maybe there's a machine that could also dig some ponds and swales while it's here.
'
I wondered about putting a car up there, but wasn't sure if that would be enough - if they can smash up our gate, then they might have enough power in whatever they're driving to push the car out of the way too.

Another thing I wondered about was ramming some steel fence posts into the road in a line, and either leaving as-is, or looping barbed wire around them to form a frame and then concreting over that. Does this sound like something that would work?
 
pollinator
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I would dig a deep trench.
My neighbours have this problem on an abandoned property, which is being used as a shortcut to a building site. It's a sad view as although no one lives there now, the place itself is very beautiful, with big trees and things that can only be seen in old abandoned gardens...
They put up signs and "no trespassing" tapes across it, but all is down after a while.
Recently I saw that their own fence was broken, as if someone intentionally hit it (the neighbours who are trying to protect the abandoned property are on the other side of it). Very sad.
I guess that they would have to build a truck-proof concrete wall, to protect that area.
 
pollinator
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Chainsaws really really don't like hitting dirt/sand. It dulls the teeth in seconds.

If you are concerned they will just cut through a log, then I would liberally coat the bark with a sand clay slurry, trying to get it into all the cracks. A few good rains and it likely won't be visible, but enough of the sand grains should be there to mess up their chains and make for a very frustrating experience.
 
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What would be the best machine for moving boulders there? We don't have anything here that would do the job so would have to hire something.



I like the boulder idea a lot.  We use our tractor with a front-end loader to move our boulders.  Do you know someone with something like that? Or can you rent one?

What about making a concrete retaining wall too high to drive over.  I was going to suggest putting in fence posts though it sounds like these people would cut them down since they cut the trees.
 
pollinator
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Depending on what materials you have to hand, you could also dig post holes in the road bed for sonotubing and tamp down a rammed earth slurry, or pour cement. If you reinforce it properly, anyone trying to ram the resulting posts with a truck would be in for a rude awakening. In hospital. If they were lucky.

-CK
 
Mike Haasl
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At Wheaton Labs they made a tank trap.  They built about a 6' steep sided berm and then on the outer side of it they dug a 4-6 foot deep trench.  Guess where the dirt for the berm came from.  Trucks wouldn't dare attempt it but maybe dirt bikes still could.

If a boulder is small enough that you can move it without a good sized tractor, then they could put a tow rope around it and drag it out of the way themselves.  

I think a series of 2' deep trenches that are a bit wider than the biggest truck tires might be a good way to trap trespassers (or, more likely, deter them).  

A fun way to deter and then aggravate them would be to install some steel fence posts every 8" across the road.  Then make an angled cut in the fence posts that halfway weakens them.  But it's angled downward and 4" from the ground.  If they think they can ram the posts and bend them over, they can.  But they'll bend at your downward angling cut and the resulting sharp point will slice their tires.  No sharp point to worry about until someone bends them over.

What keeps people from driving off road and just going around your obstacle?
 
R Parian
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+1 to the gravelly log idea, one cut into that will dull a chainsaw blade and make any additional cuts quite frustrating and time consuming.

Check with a local land developer, logger, road builder, or stream rehabilitation organization to see if they could dump a dump truck load of stump root wads - I think that would work best and might be free or cheap. That is what the timber companies use in my area to decommission logging roads, usually combined with ditching and mounding.

+1 to the ditch idea - that will deter any vehicle capable of ramming a gate.  Depending on your soil type it could be dug by hand, or rent an excavator for a weekend and build what Mike mentioned first then use the rest of the weekend to make a pond or swale or whatever. If the excavator has a thumb, you can use it to place boulders and root wads and logs too.
 
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The ditch idea has merit. Two of them will deter vehicles.

Also, 12" spiral spikes are cheap. It's not fun chainsawing a log with interlocking chunks of metal embedded in it.
 
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Do you have a picture? Do you want a permanent solution or do you want to use the road in the future?

If you don't have a machine, getting dump truck loads of roots and rubble are probably the cheapest.

T post punji sticks would be effective, but possibly a liability.  

Whatever you do, make it a secondary boundary with a locked chain or gate with no trespassing sign first.
 
pollinator
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As long as there isn't an easy way around, I would go the route of hiring someone to drop as big a tree as possible over the road. If you can get it "stuck" between some standing trees then it would be very hard to remove, especially after armoring it up as mentioned above. I wonder if it would be as expensive as you think? I have a buddy that will put trees on the ground for $200 bucks or so, and that is more to cover travel and all that. But he's a pro, lot's of guys on your local online marketplace might do it cheaper, you don't necessary need a licensed arborist or a pro faller. Make sure you tell them that you are blocking access and all you want is the tree down, not bucked or limbed, it isn't near any obstacles, etc. I wouldn't volunteer the part about armoring the log...

As for dirt bikes, almost nothing can stop them. Source: I was a teenage dirtbiker, baby.
 
Flora Eerschay
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Dan Fish wrote:As for dirt bikes, almost nothing can stop them. Source: I was a teenage dirtbiker, baby.



They probably ride dirt bikes just for fun, so maybe you could also make a path for them that redirects them away from your property, while still providing the fun?
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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I suspect "forbidden fruit" is part of the fun. Plus, bragging rights.
 
R Parian
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Building on Douglas' suggestion above, wrap the logs in old fencing - any kind would do, new or old and rusty, smooth strand, barb wire, goat/sheep/deer/field fencing, etc.  As long as it is wire and wrapped around/among the logs that might help deter chainsaws or at least slow them down as they then need one more tool to cut away the wire before using the chainsaw.
 
pollinator
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Felling atree would be considered a \challenge' to the people you are dealing with.
I have seen truck loads of soiuls dumped acrss a road.
How would you prevent people from going around the blockade?

Stel rather than timber posts are better, set in concrete perhaps.

Think like the evil people do, and create something thats too hard.
The trenches sound good.
 
pollinator
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I am not sure if you reside on said property... if you do a drive way alert will act like a doorbell and tell you if someone is accessing the road. The one we have is a double beam, that shoots across the opening, and can be set over 100 feet apart, at whatever height you desire.

Here, the ditch and berm method is used to prevent access to forestry lands. Although the determined can usually find a way aroundm

Guard dog on Patrol signage, as well as surveillance camera warning signs are also cheap deterrents. Bull in field or stallions at large signs are also useful if these would be rural born trespassers.  In some areas it is legal to post even more threatening signs, such as "owner shoots trespassers".
 
Chris Kott
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Tank traps? I thought the Duke would have used hugelkultur, like with everything else. Though I suppose he started with a 6' tall berm, so that's something. Probably a de facto hugelbeet now, anyways.

It's actually a great idea. Start with the aforementioned root balls and stumps and such, and some larger stones, and just keep burying slash with subsoil until you have somewhere to park a covering layer of soil. You'd probably have to drop some spike netting down while it seeds if there's offroader pressure, but after that, I would grow something nice and nitrogen-fixy, like black locust, or some other useful tree or shrub with long spikes that pop tires.

Most of my long-term fencing solutions involve spiky living barriers that also produce food and shelter useful wildlife, and fix nitrogen, and...

-CK
 
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I think you guys are overthinking it.  

Just buy some game cameras, and place them so that they will record & photograph the events, as well hidden as possible.  Also, try to place them so that they also film each other, should one be found and taken.  Once you have the evidence, sue them (or their parents) in small claims court for the market value of any damage.  Tree damage, in particular, is much more expensive than one might imagine.  Or if you don't want to sue the parents, simply send them a stern letter with the implication and the video of the violations.  They will probably end it.

If the perps are adults, however, you're going to have to press charges for trespass and property damage.
 
pollinator
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If you need to retain access for yourself, then a stronger gate? Otherwise I'd use boulders, can't burn them or saw them, hard to move them, pretty inexpensive. Only thing cheaper would be a ditch.
You could get a truckload or two dumped in place and block off the road, no other equipment needed if they are good at it. You might even find someone that needs to get rid of some from a construction site.
As others said, the trouble is whether they can skirt whatever you place in the way.
 
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There was a Youtube video about how these jerks kept ramming this guy's garbage with their truck to spread it out all over the place so he filled these plastic Garbage cans with concrete.  When the truck went to ram the garbage cans, it stopped the truck cold and damaged it.  A row of plastic garbage cans filled with concrete would be heavy to move and discourage anyone from ramming them a second time.  Past the garbage cans, further up the row, a row of spikes like the cops use to stop cars or several speed bumps could also discourage them from using the road.
 
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Do honey locusts grow in your area?
 
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Once saw a dead school bus used to block access -- someone took the wheels off, and set it flat on the ground crosswise to the road. If you've got strategic trees to brace it against, there won't be any dragging or shoving it either.
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