ROADS AND TIRE
Napoleon's army may have traveled on its stomach, but the army of wilderness destruction travels by road and vehicle. Indeed, one of the most commonly used criteria for "wilderness" is "roadlessness." Roads are used for logging, for mineral exploration and development, for oil & gas activity, for grazing "management," for powerline construction, for dam building, for ski area, recreational, and subdivision development. Trappers, poachers, slob hunters, archaeological site vandals, prospectors, seismographic crews, and other vanguards of the industrial spoliation of the wild use four-wheel-drive vehicles on dirt roads, on jeep trails, and cross-country. Then there are the mindless masturbators on their 4 x 4s, ATVs, ORVs, dune buggies, muscle wagons, dirt bikes, tricycles, and Nature knows what else-ripping up the land, leaving their tracks as their imbecilic calling cards, running down wildlife, and disrupting non-motorized recreation.
The road network on public lands, however, cannot be effectively guarded against a serious campaign to close it. The money is not available to both build and constantly repair roads in rough, remote country. And vehicles-whether on the roads or off-are highly vulnerable to having their tires flattened if they enter areas where they don't belong.
With the simple tools and techniques discussed in this chapter, an Earth defender can essentially declare her own wilderness boundary and safeguard an area from vehicle-borne destruction. Are two roadless areas separated by a dirt road? Close it. Are "cherry-stem" roads invading a block of wild country from all sides? Shut them off at the periphery. Is the Forest Service building a logging road into prime wildlife habitat? Wreck it. Are miners, seismographers, surveyors, trappers, or poachers threatening your area? Take their transportation away. Are bozos on their tricycles or dune buggies trashing a wild canyon, roadless beach, or desert valley? Flatten their tires and make 'em walk out.
The most vulnerable portion of the industrial infrastructure is the transportation network. The ecodefender can safely, securely, cheaply, and effectively disrupt it-and save wild country.
Most monkeywrenchers have focused on disabling heavy equipment, cutting down billboards, and-more recently-spiking trees. All of these are worthwhile, but road spiking and destroying roads have not received the attention due them. With the United States Forest Service continuing a gargantuan road-building program in currently roadless areas, monkeywrenchers need to make a major effort to close these roads. This chapter tells you how to do just that. An additional attraction of road spiking or road destruction is that it is much more difficult for the villains to protect hundreds of miles of road from sabotage than it is for them to guard a few pieces of heavy equipment or active logging sites. You are in much less danger of apprehension doing this kind of monkeywrenching out in the wildwood than you are crawling around equipment yards. Nonetheless, do not neglect basic security precautions.
A modern version of the Vietnamese "punji stake" offers a simple means of closing an unsurfaced road. An angle-cut metal rod driven into the road's wheel rut will puncture tires while not harming people. The 1/2 inch diameter rod, protruding only about three inches, is too blunt to penetrate a shoe sole under a person's weight, but sharp enough to puncture the tire of a heavy vehicle. With this technique you can cure an ORV problem or make a logging or mining operation unprofitable. By harassing a survey or exploration crew with these you might persuade a corporation not to proceed with a mining or drilling operation. The possible applications are extensive since almost any exploitive enterprise requires roads.
You can buy the materials to close a road for pocket change, and can emplace the stakes alone in a very brief time. By not involving anyone else, you can insure that nobody can betray you. That peace of mind is sometimes worth more than the encouraging companionship. Since the stakes can be driven quickly and easily, there is little chance of being seen, let alone identified, if you exercise even minimal caution.
Any piece of hard metal that can be sharpened and driven into the ground will work. For convenience and economy, we recommend 1/2 inch diameter steel rod used for concrete reinforcement, usually called "number four rebar" in the construction trades.
If you buy rebar pre-cut to length, you will order "one foot number-four dowels," and you will have to sharpen one end.
If you decide to cut the stakes from longer rods, you can hacksaw stakes such that the ends are sharp enough. Cut the rods off at a sharp angle (at least 45 degrees) every couple of feet, then cut these pieces in half with a straight-across cut. Thus each stake is about one foot long, with one sharp end and one blunt end. Stakes longer than a foot are hard to drive deep enough in rocky ground; much shorter and they are not stable. Longer ones may be useful in very soft ground.
If you buy the longer rod and cut it, keep in mind that rebar is usually bought by contractors in quantity and delivered to a construction site. So, do not call attention to yourself by repeatedly buying small quantities of rebar and hacksaw blades in the same building supply store in an area where "road spiking" is taking the profits out of some local rip-off. Rebar is common, ordinary stuff, though, and nobody will take any interest in why you want it so long as you don't need a salesperson's help in figuring out what (and how much) to order. Order a length that you can easily transport. Buy the best hacksaw blades, since cheap ones break easily and will only make a few cuts before dulling. Buy the longest blades you can find in order to get a decent stroke (most hacksaws accept blades of various lengths). This will make cutting much easier.
Secure one end of the rod (by clamping, jamming, etc.) and lay the free end across a crotched (or notched) piece of wood under the cut to be made, about one foot from the end. Lay the blade alongside one of the retention ridges which run across the rebar at a 45 degree angle. Make several light strokes until the blade cuts into the bar enough to prevent sideways slipping. With a little practice you can cut more than a dozen road spikes an hour in this manner. If you cut up a rod or two in your spare time during the week, you will have plenty by the weekend.
For ease and convenience, you may want to build a jig to hold the rod steady and to guide the sawblade. Any kind of "miter box" that doesn't reduce the length of the stroke much is okay. A simple method is to place two cement blocks on end and place the length of rebar to be cut in the grooves on the ends. Saw the rebar between the cement blocks.
A torch is the fastest and easiest method of turning out large numbers of stakes. Learning how to cut (as opposed to welding or joining) with a torch is easy. Someone can show you in half an hour how to hook up and adjust the equipment well enough to burn off rods. Learn how to handle the gases and equipment safely, and to adjust the flame. (See the separate article on the Cutting Torch in the Vehicles and Heavy Equipment chapter.)
Make the "cap" illustrated here so that you can drive the stakes into the ground without blunting the sharp end. Buy two 3/8 to 1/4 inch galvanized pipe "reducers," one 3/8 by 5 inch galvanized pipe nipple, and one 1/4 inch nipple of any length (the shorter the better), and assemble as follows: Screw the five inch long pipe into the large ends of both reducers; screw the smaller pipe into the small end of one of the reducers; then cut it off flush.
Place the reducer with the flush-cut nipple over the sharp end of the road spike and hammer the other end of the reducer to drive the stake into the ground. If you simply put a piece of 1/4 inch pipe over the sharp end of the stake and hammered on it to drive in the rebar, one pipe end would deform very quickly from hammering and the stake would wedge up in the other end. The reducers hold their shape and make this a long lasting tool. Driving the first stake creates a seat (in the end that fits over the stake) into which succeeding road spikes should be fitted.
For effectiveness and safety, give thought to where you place road spikes. Avoid areas where a blow-out or flat from the stake might put the driver of the vehicle in danger. Roads or "jeep trails" with a sheer, long drop-off on one side are obvious danger zones. Choose, instead, a flat area or low point in the vehicle path. Determine whether you should spike a long vehicle route at the beginning or in a remote location in the middle. Will a flat miles from nowhere endanger a typically overweight, soft ORVer?
Although road spikes are difficult to see from a vehicle (particularly a charging muscle wagon), picking a spot where they will be extra difficult to see will increase their effectiveness. Choose a spot where vegetation to the side, shadows, a dip in the route, a curve, or other natural camouflaging will obscure the three inches of dark rod protruding from the ground. Also, pick a site where there is an excellent chance of the road spike making contact with a tire. At some points along a vehicle route, there may be several feet of variance for the tires. Several road spikes may be needed across the route there to flatten a tire. Instead, select a spot where ruts or natural constrictions keep the tire tread confined and where one spike is sure to make contact with knobby rubber. Crossings of streams and dry washes are also choice locations. Look at the terrain and previous vehicle tracks to determine where each of your spikes will wreak maximum (but not dangerous) havoc on vehicle tires that should not be there.
Consider the direction most vehicles will be traveling and incline the road spikes accordingly. It may be necessary on some routes to direct your spikes in both directions.
Even with proper planning of spike emplacement, your road spikes may stand out. Put a tumbleweed, litter, or small branches over visible spikes to hide them.
-Dan 'l Boone
• Check a dead-end jeep trail before you spike it. It is best to flatten someone's tires when they are going in, not coming out.
• Often a trustworthy partner is useful for security. While one person drives the spikes in the road, the other can watch or listen for vehicles or hikers. Prudently used, radios can add to security. See the section on Tools in the Security chapter for a discussion on radios.
• Placing a rag over the head of the spike driver when hammering in stakes may help to deaden the noise of hammering.
• Rebar is cheap. A twenty-foot length at one suburban building supply store was only $3.50. Rebar also saws easily and quickly with a good hacksaw blade-don't be intimidated by the task until you try it.
• Disguise your spikes with small branches. This may be especially effective on logging roads. Soon, drivers will be afraid to drive over any fragment of dead tree.
• 3/8 inch rebar can also be used for road spikes. It is cheaper (79 cents for a ten foot length), saws easier, and is lighter to transport in your pack. Except for really macho tires, it should do an adequate job.
• 3/8 inch diameter rebar cut in two or three foot lengths has been found effective for flattening the tires of dune buggies and the like on beaches and in sand dune areas.
• Free rebar can oftentimes be had by scouting around old construction sites where short pieces have been discarded.
• On almost every construction job where rebar is used, many small pieces will be left over. If you walk up and ask whoever is putting in the steel if you can have the leftover rebar for a home project, they generally will be happy to give it to you.
• A quick and easy way to cut rebar for road spikes is to rent a heavy pair of bolt cutters (handles at least 3' long). Place one handle on the ground and stand on the grip. You want the whole cutter lying on the ground except for the one handle used to work the jaws. While keeping the cutters flat, raise the jaws as wide (high) as you can. Place the rebar in as close to the hinge pin as possible, then put your full weight on the handle. The jaws will eat right through, crimping the bar into a razor-sharp edge. Be careful; you can lose blood to these sharp little suckers. You may not be able to cut the rebar at more than a 20 degree angle, but field experience has proven that to be sharp enough. This method works well for anyone over 175 pounds; a smaller person might want to use a hydraulic cutter. In two hours, you can have enough stakes to spike a lot of jeep trail.
• The so-called "Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988" which made tree spiking a federal felony, also made road spiking (including nailboards) a similar crime. This testifies to the effectiveness of road spiking and to the concern industry and ORVers have about its increasing use. See the section on Federal AntiSpiking Legislation in the Developments chapter.
An Alternative Spike Driver
Rebar road spikes can be driven into soft (muddy) ground without dulling the business end and without using a spike driver. Tightly clamp a large pair of visegrips to the spike and tap on the visegrips with a hammer to sink the spike into the ground. In harder ground, visegrips and a simple spike driver can be used. Use a three-inch section of 3/8 inch pipe with a 3/8" by 1/4" reducer or a 3/8" end cap (block-off cap) screwed on the end. Tightly clamp the visegrips 3 1/2 inches from the pointed end of the rebar road spike. Slide the spike driver over the rebar so it rests on the visegrips but does not touch the sharp end of the rebar (half an inch gap should be present). By hammering on the end of the spike driver, the rebar spike will be driven into the ground through the visegrips which you grip. (See illustration.)
Advanced Road Spiking
Here are some ideas to increase the effectiveness of rebar road spikes. First of all, we found that the easiest way to procure raw materials is to visit the local landfill. Many landfills have unattended scrap metal recycling piles which contain scrap pieces of rebar. The sizes that work best are #3 (3/8") and #4 (1/2"). Many pieces will be bent, but these are useful for creative placements.
We have directed much energy toward stopping 3-wheeled ATCs, dirt bikes, and the 4-wheeled ("Quad Runner") ATVs. These abominations present problems different from those presented by 4 x 4 trucks and jeeps. For them, ecoteurs must be more exacting in their methods of manufacture and placement.
The relatively light weight of an ATV, coupled with the pliable, low air pressure tires, makes it possible for the tire to bounce over a standard 1/2" rebar spike cut at a 45-degree angle and sticking up 3" from ground level. To increase effectiveness we use 3/8" rebar with tips cut at an angle of 60 degrees or greater. For standard emplacements we use 14" long spikes, enabling us to have 4-5" above ground. As a general rule, for maximum stability, the length of the spike underground should be at least twice the length of the part above ground.
Before cutting rebar, notice that it has two longitudinal ridges running opposite each other. Start your cut on one ridge, since it helps form a sharp tip for the spike. While a hacksaw works well, also consider using metal-working tools such as a "Sawz-all" with metal blades or the special metal-cutting carbide blades for hand-held circular saws. If you use a metal grinder to sharpen tips, do not overheat the tip, as the metal will lose its temper, making it brittle.
Our most effective emplacement tool is a block of 1 1/2" plywood or three 1/2" plywood strips nailed together. The block should be 3 to 4 inches wide (enough to grip well) and 8 to 10 inches long. Align your spike tip and place the block over the tip and drive with your single-jack hammer. Plywood drives the spikes without dulling the tips and will not split apart. The plywood block is easily removed from the spike and will last a long time. It produces far less noise than metal emplacement tools, and is simple to replace. Plywood would also be easier to explain should one be questioned, or to toss if someone approaches.
As these spikes have sharp tips, wear gloves when handling them (you should wear gloves anyway, for security reasons, and should make sure the spikes don't carry fingerprints). Consider making special containers for carrying your spikes-unprotected, they can puncture a backpack. We constructed spike "quivers" out of 3-inch diameter ABS plastic pipe. The 3" size holds 20 to 30 3/8" spikes. You'll need two 3" caps; one should be cemented on, and the other attached with a small draw cord. D-rings can be mounted at each end by using large 3" hose clamps, and a nylon luggage strap can be clipped on to the D-rings to form a sling. The quivers can be carried in a day pack. When ready to emplace spikes, simply pull out a quiver, sling it over your neck and shoulder, and you have 20 spikes at your (gloved) fingertips.
Another weapon against tires is the spike- or nailboard. Short scraps of rebar, left over after making spikes, are useful here. For rebar spikes, take a 2 to 4 foot length of standard 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 lumber and stud it with spikes. Our spikes protrude 4 to 6 inches out of the board at a 45-degree angle and are usually placed 3 to 4 inches apart. The spikes can all be angled in one direction, or angled two ways, so as to puncture tires coming from either direction. To place the spikes, drill a hole the diameter of the spike, at the desired angle, through the board. After placing the spikes in the board, you may want to nail another board across the bottom as backing, so the weight of the vehicle won't drive the spike down into the hole before the tip accomplishes its purpose. However, this may not be a hazard with the lighter ATCs and ATVs (a 4 x 4 ATV may weigh 500 lbs., sans rider).
Nailboards, made from strips of 1" or 1 1/2"-thick plywood with numerous nails driven through at an angle, are ideal for dirt bikes, whose narrow tires may miss rebar spikes. We recommend nails of at least 20d size, since smaller ones might be bent by the tires.
Nail- and spikeboards should be anchored to the ground. This is done by drilling a hole in each end of the board, and by driving an L-shaped piece of rebar through each hole. We use 14 inch "Ls" for soil emplacements and 36 inch "Ls" for sand or mud emplacements.
Bury the wood portion of your nail- or spikeboard in the ground. Carry a digging tool for this. Camouflage your emplacements. Be creative. Most ATV and dirt bike yahoos won't think anything of running over a small piece of brush, tumbleweed, or litter which conceals a spikeboard.
Be sure to avoid leaving fingerprints anywhere on your spike- and nailboards, and on your tools.
Keep in mind that by making spikes sharper, and by using spike- and nailboards, we may increase the risk of injury-and that is not our purpose. Thus, use these emplacements only where there is little chance of injury to the general public.
• An easy way to drive nails through a nailboard is to place the board on sand or soft dirt and drive in the nails through the board into the dirt. Turn it over and you have your nailboard.
• To anchor nailboards, try driving large nails or bridge timber spikes through the nailboard into the ground
• Some field agents argue that nails should not extend more than an inch and a half cut from the board because they will bend on contact with the tires.
* For cheap and easy nailboards: Stud a piece of irregularly-shaped cardboard (it looks more like trash that way) with roofing nails and spray paint the whole thing brown so the nails are not noticeable from a moving vehicle. Do the same with a piece of carpet scrap, but no paint this time.
* Remember that many dirt bike and ATV riders are children and mentally handicapped individuals. Be careful. Many dirt bikes travel at high rates of speed. Place tire puncturing devices with the safety of the rider in mind.
* Other dirt bikers are of the most uncouth, violent, and potentially dangerous variety of Boobus americanus. Be careful. You do not want to be captured by these slavering morons or even suspected of doing anything against them.
HOW TO MAKE CALTROPS
Caltrops are extremely effective for flattening tires on stink machines of the two, three, and four wheel varieties. They are sold through Soldier of Fortune style mail-order houses for about $1.75 each and possession is legal. If you are a beginning welder you can easily make your own for less than ten cents apiece.
Take a welding class at the local community college. Learn how to cut and weld using an Oxy-acetylene outfit. You'll be amazed at how much this will expand your horizons as a monkeywrencher. A cutting torch can slice through iron like a hot knife through butter. (See the Cutting Torch article in the Vehicles and Heavy Equipment chapter.)
Oxy-acetylene welding outfit
Small diameter welding rod
Twelve pounds of 20d nails (bright box)
Sturdy workbench and two vises
Three pairs of welding goggles
18" handle bolt cutters
Medium weight hammers
Two pairs of pliers
Clamp one handle of the bolt cutters horizontally in the vise. Hold a nail in the jaws at a 45 degree angle with one hand and push the free handle down with the other hand to snip off the head and leave a nasty-looking point where the head was. Cut the minimum amount of nail off with the head. It's easier to snip when the nail is jammed as far into the jaws as possible. You might as well do this to 600 nails while you're at it. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes in case a nail head flies off. Be careful to save every single nail head for appropriate disposal somewhere other than your workshop.
Now mark the center of each headless nail with a felt tip pen. The best way to do this is by marking two parallel lines on the workbench one-half nail length apart, and laying the nails over these lines to mark them. Once all the nails have been cut and marked, you're ready to make a prototype caltrop.
Clamp one of those double pointed nails vertically in the vise with the midpoint mark just showing. Bang it over with the hammer until you have a wide "L" shape with an interior angle in the neighborhood of 110 degrees. Make sure it comes out with the bend at the midpoint. Do this to only six nails. Clamp one of these bent nails with one tip in the jaws of the vise so that it is in an upright "V" position. Balance another bent nail over the first one crosswise in the inverted "V" position. This is what a caltrop looks like. All you have to do now is weld the nails together.
Notice that there is a convenient place for two tack welds where the nails cross, and two more places on the underside. Strike the torch and do a tack weld. Before the weld cools, tweak the caltrop with pliers so that it is symmetrical. Do the other tack weld. Turn off the torch so that you will have two free hands to loosen the vise slightly. Grab the caltrop with pliers, take it out of the vise, and reposition it upside down to expose the two remaining tack weld areas. Strike the torch again and do those two welds.
When the caltrop cools, give it a test by placing it on the ground. No matter how it falls, one point should be vertical. It not, then either the bend in the nails is not the proper angle or you welded it crooked. When you've got a decent prototype, set it aside.
Tape a piece of cardboard to your vise and make a mark on it to serve as a bending guide for all the hundreds of nails you're about to bend. Clamp a nail vertically in the vise with the midpoint mark just showing and pound it over until the tip is even with the mark. Carefully bend all the nails to the correct angle, one at a time. Now you're ready for the welding assembly line.
To make the best use of both your time and welding gas, use a three-person production team with one welder and two helpers. This requires two vises on the workbench about two-and-a-half feet apart. Provide welding goggles, a pair of pliers, and a beer for each helper. The welder works one vise while the helpers set up a pair of caltrops at another. Each vise has two sides and can hold two caltrops at a time for a very efficient production line.
The welder does the first two tack welds on both caltrops in vise A while the helpers are setting two more in vise B, then the helpers flip the caltrops over in vise A while welding happens at vise B. Finished caltrops are placed on the floor to air quench.
When you have made 100 caltrops, double bag them in paper shopping bags. This is called a "Bag-o-Trops." It's a handy little item that can really increase the effectiveness of every Earth defender.
* Cover the jaws of the vise with pieces of wood, cardboard, or metal to prevent leaving distinct tool marks on the caltrops. Such tool marks may reveal the brand of bench vise, records of purchase, and may be linked to your particular vise. Dispose of the jaw covers after the manufacturing is complete.
* If you haven't the means to make caltrops as described above, you can buy caltrops on the surplus market from some advertisers in Shotgun News.
These caltrops are military surplus from some war and aren't always advertised, so keep looking. The advertisers who run full page ads with surplus items are the ones to watch. See an issue at your local gun store.
· See the illustration for two other ways to make caltrops.
• Somewhat cruder caltrops can be made with inexpensive arc-welding units as small as 70 amps. Sears has a 20-70 variable amp unit that can be obtained as cheaply as $59. Higher-amperage units are more expensive but will produce faster and more substantial welds. It is important to read the operating instructions carefully before arc-welding and to always use hand and eye protective gear (intense light can burn the retina).
Caltrops can be constructed as follows with the arc welder: Obtain nails at least 4 inches long, the thicker the better, and cut off the heads with bolt cutters or a hacksaw. Sharpen both ends on a grinding wheel. Extreme sharpness is not necessary as the weight of the vehicle drives the nail into the tire even if somewhat blunt. Weld at least 3 of these nails together in opposing planes so that there is a tripod effect no matter how a thrown caltrop lands.
To perform the actual welding, place one nail in a vise, hold the other in a pair of visegrips, and use your other hand to hold the electrode.
• Short on caltrops? Put a caltrop or other sharp object inside a target. Many off-roaders love to drive over the random beer can or paper cup in the road, so put a surprise in one. Those Styrofoam clam-shell containers from fast food places even have a use. One will hold the business end of a broken bottle with its points up. These targets make cleanup afterwards easier and minimize possible injury to animals, hikers, ORVers, and yourself.
• Effective caltrops can be made with 4 to 6 inch reinforcing mesh used in concreting. This mesh cut at an angle in the middle of each span will produce steel crosses. Bend them at right angles to form quick caltrops.
• Spray paint caltrops black for use on asphalt so they will be less conspicuous.
• For simple caltrops, drive a half dozen long nails through a golf ball so that they stick out in all directions. Spray paint the whole thing with a color similar to the surface on which they might be used. Remember that a box of these in your car or truck might look very suspicious to a policeman who, on a random traffic stop, decides to poke around in your vehicle in the hope of finding an open liquor bottle, drugs, or stolen goods.
Other Tire Flattening Methods
When flattening dirt bike tires to keep them from tearing up country, the monkeywrencher should be concerned about not endangering the rider. An effective, but seemingly safe, method is placing upended simplex roofing nails. These nails have large heads so they will stand on end easily, they are available at every hardware store, and they are cheap. The nails come in lengths up to 2 1/2 inches long. This is long enough for dirt bike tires (and regular auto tires), but not long enough to flatten a heavy-duty 4-wheeler tire. The safety advantage of roofing nails is that they won't dump a bike from a blowout, but will eventually cause the tire to go flat-in a period of time from minutes to hours. The best place to set them is at the entrance to an illegal dirt bike trail. For maximum effectiveness, hand set them with the bases down and cover the bases with road dirt to camouflage them. Paint them the same color as the ground if you really want to hide them. One distinct advantage of roofing nails over a permanent installation is that the tire will pick up the nail and carry it away for a while. This ensures that the biker won't be able to pinpoint the exact spot where the nails are deposited. A disadvantage is that these nails will probably go through a tennis shoe sole, so you don't want to set them where runners will go. A single person can scatter hundreds of these nails in a short time. They can also be scattered caltrop fashion in order to evade pursuers, although many of the nails will not fall point up.
Hand setting the nails at strategic points will ensure that all the bases are down. Use a straight section of trail where the bikes aren't breaking traction or side-slipping. This ensures that a single bike won't ruin the entire setup by sliding through and scattering the nails off the trail. That way each bike through will leave some for the next bike, and the next .... If you want to get really elaborate, paint the bottoms of the bases black so the biker won't immediately notice the foreign object sticking out of his tire.
* A company called Dings Magnetic markets a variety of road magnets to pick up nails and other metal on roads and at construction sites. This indicates that dropped nails are a major problem for tires.
Generally a metal object bends under a vehicle's weight but doesn't compress lengthwise. A well-anchored 6d finishing nail is adequate, provided it is set (see illustration) at the angle of purely compressional impact (Table 1). Lubrication facilitates penetration (a light oil also allows camouflaging road dust to be adsorbed). A simple wooden jig (see illustration) is used to set the angle in the field.
VALVE CORE EXTRACTOR
An inexpensive tool known as a "valve core extractor" provides an alternative method for flattening tires. Remove the cap from the valve stem, insert the extractor into the stem. Twist until you feel the tool engage the valve core. Then unscrew (counterclockwise) the valve core and throw it in the bushes. Doing this to all the tires on a vehicle would immobilize it, without permanently destroying the tires.
Valve core extractors may be purchased cheaply at most bicycle shops (the valves on most bicycle tires are the same size as the valves on most automobile tires).
It is also a simple matter to let the air out of the tires of an unattended vehicle by depressing the post in the tire valves. A pressure gauge has a post on it to do just this; a nail or other slender metal object will work, too.
Railroad Spike/Tie Plate Trap
Railroad spikeboards are probably suitable only for special events (a particularly noxious off-road race, for instance), or for Monster Trucks (like "Bigfoot") and other jacked-up rigs with very large tires. This is due to the work involved in making them and their heavy weight. They have the advantage of superior strength, and would probably penetrate most tires-including the $2,500 behemoths Monster Trucks use-quite readily.
When walking along railroad tracks, one commonly finds old spikes discarded when new rails were laid. It is also possible to find, along the tracks, discarded metal tie plates. The tie plate is a square metal plate, about 8" x 8", which is used to fasten the rail to the ties. It contains four holes through which the spikes are pounded, to hold the rail to the tie. To make a railroad spikeboard, place four spikes through the holes opposite the way they would be when holding the rail down to the tie. Weld these spikes to the tie plate. The result is a massive "spikeboard." Railroad spikes are stronger than rebar, and the metal tie plate prevents the weight of a vehicle from driving the spikes into the ground-instead, maximum tire penetration is likely.
The weight of these spikeboards makes them suitable for use in desert canyons where Monster Trucks like to romp and frolic. The best place to put them would be in stream crossings under water. Pick known vehicle crossings. Or on rivers where the ORVs will be charging down rather than simply across a stream, look for narrow spots in the canyon where vehicles will not have much choice of route. If the bottom is rocky, simply place the spikeboards where the water is deep enough or opaque enough so they won't be spotted by the oncoming drivers. If the bottom is sandy or muddy, find a flat rock and place a spikeboard on top of it. There must be enough resistance beneath the spikeboard to drive the spike firmly into the tire.
Another suitable location to nail Monster Trucks with railroad spikeboards would be in thick vegetation.
Railroad spikeboards are ideal for soft sand; the plate can be buried with only part of the length of the spikes protruding above the surface. If the spikes are spray-painted with a color matching the sand, and/or camouflaged with vegetation, they probably won't be noticed by the driver of a speeding vehicle, particularly during a race. Multiple emplacements of these devices can create a formidable barrier.
Note: The discarded spikes found along RR tracks are usually rusty and dull. If so, sharpen the points before emplacement.
• Other methods have potential for dealing with large-tired ORVs in canyons. Place a waterlogged railroad tie, studded with sharpened rebar, in a stream crossing. You could also take a 2 x 6, drive numerous bridge timber spikes all the way through, and then nail the board, with the points of the spikes projecting upward, onto a waterlogged railroad tie. Since it may take a while to come up with a waterlogged tie, other means of anchoring a studded board under water may be easier. For example, you could anchor it with rocks or fasten it to a heavy piece of metal.
Suppose your neighborhood is infested with off-road vehicle scum, or you chance upon an unattended muscle wagon where it shouldn't be. A quick slash job is in order. Drivers find it particularly annoying if all four tires are destroyed. Slashes in the tire sidewall will often be non-reparable, whereas punctures of the tread can usually be patched. The choice is yours.
An excellent instrument for the job is a thick-handled, x-acto knife with a symmetrical "stiletto-type" blade (x-acto blade style 23x). These can be obtained cheaply at hardware or art supply stores. The blade design prevents the knife from getting stuck in the tire, and the sharp point allows easy insertion into the sidewall. You can safely carry this tool in your pocket if a piece of cork covers the blade. Keep one in the glove compartment of your vehicle for use when the opportunity arises. Although probably not as damaging as cutting the sidewall, an effective method of deflating a tire is to cut off the valve stem, or to pull the valve stem out entirely with a pair of pliers. Another way to puncture is to place small pieces of wood spiked with long nails under the tires of a parked car, or do the same thing with a caltrop. However, this method is more time-consuming, less certain, and best reserved for situations where the sound of escaping air might give you away.
• Less incriminating than an x-acto knife and equally (if not more) effective is the "Opinel" knife widely sold at camping and surplus stores. The 4" size is ideal. Get a model with a lockring. Sharpen both sides of the blade. These knives are inexpensive, extremely sharp, and do not elicit suspicion.
• A small, sharp pocket knife works fine for slashing tires. Place the point firmly against the sidewall and push, with a slight sawing motion if necessary. The tire is ruined. It cannot be patched.
• If you slash a tire make sure you really slash it so that it flattens. If you merely slice through part of the tire sidewall, not deep enough to flatten it, and give up, the tire may blow out while the vehicle is being driven. If this occurs at a high speed or on a curve, it could be very dangerous for the driver and passengers. Flatten tires; do not put people in danger.
• DO NOT SLASH TIRES UNDER HIGH PRESSURE. THIS CAN BE DANGEROUS.
It's time to haul out the old monkeywrench and turn the screws on the snowmobiling cult. Snow machines harm plants and animals, waste energy and resources, and destroy the solitude of the woods with excessive noise.
One way to deter snowmobiling in sensitive areas that have marked snowmobile trails (much of the North Woods), would be a committed but decentralized effort, beginning with the departure of snow, to remove and ruin signs and posts associated with snowmobile trails. Trail markers and trail identification and promotion signs should all be removed. Safety signs, such as stop signs at intersecting highways, should probably remain.
Equipment for sign removal is minimal-usually a box-end or crescent wrench to turn out a couple of lag screws. Upon removal, the signs should be bent, defaced, or otherwise rendered unusable, then stashed under leaves or brush where they will eventually rot into the ground. If concealment is not a problem, a small pruning saw or bow saw would also be useful to cut the sign post into several pieces.
Removing snowmobile signs will serve to discourage the cult by decreasing the accessibility of trails, eliminating the "advertising value" of sign posts, and siphoning away at least some of the funds that would otherwise go to trail expansion.
In one northern Minnesota county recently, eco-raiders removed over $2,000 worth of signs out of a possible $5,000 worth.
Maintenance costs for snowmobile trails can also be increased by dragging dead trees and downed branches across trails. This is a good way to combine some low-commitment monkeywrenching with a hike in the woods. (Do not, however, push standing snags down across trails. Snags are vital for many birds and other species of wildlife.)
If we all do our work this spring, summer, and fall, the snowmobile trails should be in ragged shape by next winter.
• It has been suggested that snowmobiles can be stopped by shoveling to bare ground a section of trail, preferably a section hidden by a bend in the trail. Drawbacks to this method are the amount of labor involved, and the fact that it would have little more than a nuisance effect on the snowmobiler.
• A more effective deterrent might be to go after the trailers that pull the snowmobiles, while they are parked unattended at the trailhead. Tires are obvious targets, although by no means the only vulnerable points. Trailers are also used to haul other destructive "toys" such as ATCs and dirt bikes. Be cautious-it wouldn't do to have the owners return while you were trashing their trailers!
• Reportedly, monofilament fishing line spread out on the snow will suck into a snowmobile's track mechanism and cause it to jam.
• Remember that snowmobiles are often driven by overweight, poorly-prepared bubbas, who may be put into a life-threatening situation if their snowmobile is disabled miles from civilization. Be very conscious of the situation you may be creating and be concerned for the safety of the snowmobiler.
• Some have suggested throwing handfuls of loose wire on snowmobile trails. Presumably this will become entangled in the track mechanism.
• Just walk up to a parked crotch rocket with some wire cutters, press the throttle on the right handle bar to the handle and clip the exposed cable. Sprays to prevent car fan belts from slipping or some other abrasive sprayed between the track and the wheels might cause the whole thing to heat up and melt to itself. Snowmobilers are always concerned about their track melting to the rubber runners when they are traveling at high speeds in dry snow. This might work best with rental units-most operators of which are inexperienced. Snowmobile rental outfits have a hard time getting insurance anyway and with a little wrenching, these toys could become too expensive to play with.
• Snowmobiles are also vulnerable to the methods discussed in the Vehicles and Heavy Equipment chapter.
Most exploitation of the wild requires roads, and the industrial machine could not afford to constantly repair the road network on public lands if even a few hundred people across the country were making a spare time project of trashing it. Roads are difficult and expensive to maintain, especially in the areas we want to save. Selected areas, such as de facto wildernesses or roadless areas denied protection in the RARE II rip-off, BLM Wilderness Review, and subsequent "Wilderness" legislation, can be protected by closing the unsurfaced roads that are built and used in the process of exploitation.
Individuals can use the techniques described here, with simple, cheap tools, to prevent vehicle access to sensitive areas. You can deter the testing needed to prove commercial feasibility for proposed developments such as mining or oil & gas drilling. You can discourage the construction of a timber harvest road in a National Forest roadless area. You also can harass and render unprofitable an existing exploitative enterprise.
The simplest, and often most effective, way to inhibit vehicle travel is with "road spikes" (previously discussed). But for a variety of reasons, you may want to employ additional methods of stopping traffic. You might want to make the damage look like an act of nature (or at most, of vandalism). You may wish to prevent quick repair of the road. As each "road spike" is found, it can be removed, whereas some of these techniques will necessitate major repairs. On occasion, the money, equipment, and initiative to make the repairs will not come together, and they will be postponed. Numerous instances of damage to roads will multiply the effects and eventually large parts of the transportation infrastructure on public lands will be abandoned. In this era of high federal deficits, construction and repair of controversial roads that are continually being sabotaged will be recognized as pouring money down a rat hole.
The well-known methods of cutting a tree across or rolling a boulder onto a road are of limited value (but they are of value if enough people do them frequently). The intruder can cut trees out of the way and suffers little loss. Trees can be of greater use on footpaths where dirt bikes are a problem. Hikers simply step over, while the bike has to be dragged over the log(s). Of course the logs have to be placed in spots where dirt bikes can't ride around the ends and this must be done in many places to present a real deterrent. A tree across the road might be effective in conjunction with another operation to delay motorized pursuit.
Any boulder you can drag into the road, some 4-wheeler with a winch can probably move out. But where you feel that a big rock or log can be placed in a hard-to-remove position, the most useful tools are: a come-along, rated two tons or heavier; 2 or more chokers; 2 spud bars; a hydraulic (car or truck) jack; large and small rock chisels; and log-splitting wedges. You probably won't need all of these tools on any one job, but with a tool kit like this, you can move anything that is practical to move without machines. All of these items can be purchased cheaply at flea markets, and anyone who works in a construction trade can easily obtain the bars, come-along, chokers, and such.
A "choker" is a length of cable with a loop in each end: one loop is passed through the other loop and the cable is wrapped around the load to be lifted or moved. Pulling on the free loop pulls the slack out, choking the cable tight around the load, hence its name. You will need at least two chokers and four is better. Buy fifty feet of good, flexible 5/16" or 3/8" stranded steel cable and have it cut into four equal pieces where you buy it. (It takes a special cutter to do a neat job on cable.) Now double the ends back to form a loop of about 6" diameter. Then double cable-clip it. Cable clips can be bought in any hardware store and must be matched to the size of the cable they are to fit. They can be put on with a wrench or visegrips.
The "come-along," or hand winch, can be attached directly to the object to be moved or it can be used in conjunction with other tackle. You can use it to pull a rope or cable through blocks to multiply its rated power. The small reel on a hand winch will only hold a few feet of cable so you have to secure the load and get a new grip frequently. A logging chain is handy for this type of work. For one thing it acts as its own choker since it has a fitting on each end that grips on any steel link it is slipped over. Steel carabiners are indispensable for all rigging work, especially for work as "fairleads" (those with the Teflon rollers are best) to lead cables and ropes over and around turns. Any library should have books explaining rigging and the use of tackle in detail. Nautical books such as Chapman's have sufficient coverage of the subject.
"Spud bars" are just long, heavy-duty pry bars. You can make a nice one cheaply by using a piece of heavy-wall steel box tube. Cut a slot in the end of the box tube, slip a piece of leaf spring in the slot, and have a welding shop run a bead everywhere the leaf spring touches the tube. Use the come-along to pull on the end of a log as a giant lever if even a spud bar won't do the job.
The hydraulic jack is useful for raising something enough to get a bar or roller under, and it can be used for "pushing" as described below. The rock chisels can be used to start blocks of fractured rock, as can the thicker splitting wedges.
Undercutting a bank is only a little better than logs and rocks since the rubble can usually be cleared out of the way or driven over with less trouble than it took to bring it down. However, it is possible to find conditions where a modest effort applied to an unstable bank (or cliff above the road) will fill up a section of road with no easy detours. Using the spud bar in the cracks of fractured rocks is sometimes feasible. After a bank is well undermined, a ditch across the top of the bank will help to bring it down. (Remain on the uphill side of the ditch and/or rope off to avoid becoming part of the landslide!) If, after undercutting the bank and ditching across the top, it still won't slide, you can lay a pole on each side of the bottom of the ditch. Lay the hydraulic jack on its side between the poles, and jack them apart. They will spread the load along the ditch and push the undermined bank off.
Removing the Roadbed
Much better than blocking the road is to remove part of the roadbed. This is especially effective on a steep hillside where more fill is hard to get and stabilize in place. One simple, small-scale way to do this is to ditch the natural water flow downward across the road. The best place to do so is where a gully or watercourse crosses the road on a slope. Such a spot may have a culvert or waterbreak to keep the run-off from washing out the road. You can dig out a waterbreak and create a ditch across the road. Running water will deepen it and eventually make the road impassable to vehicles. (If it is too wide, it can be forded, however, and if it is too narrow and shallow, it can be filled with logs or rocks by a driver.) A pick, pry bar, and long-handled, pointed shovel are about the only tools you need for this kind of job.
Perhaps the best way to cut a road is to find the place(s) it is trying to slip off down the slope naturally. Clay slopes often slide as do fractured rocks bedded at a steep angle. On rocky slopes a spud bar and gravity should help you undercut the roadbed. This is especially effective on tight, outside curves and steep slopes. Don't bother to dig off the entire width of the road; digging off just the outside will do the trick.
While clay slopes can be dug off, too, there is an easier method in some places. With practice you can spot a slope that is trying to slide off. The shoulders of the road will be cracked and slipped in a series of step-downs. If there is water on the uphill (inside) side of the road, stop up the drainage so that the ground becomes soggy. Dig holes to help the water penetrate the subsoil, and once the clay becomes saturated, it will slide.
If the road has culverts, stuff the uphill ends with rocks and other debris. Then dig through the road fill to expose the top of the culvert. If this is done at the beginning of a seasonal rainy period or before spring run-off in snow country, most culverts will wash out, creating an excellent vehicle barrier. Keep your work hidden from drivers on the road, otherwise it might be noticed and removed before the next big storm. (See the next section for more ideas on plugging culverts.)
You can also remove the culverts, using the come-along or a vehicle to drag them out. First dig all the road fill off the top of the culvert and free an end enough to get a choker on it. Using pole A-frames and fairleads as necessary, pull upward on the end of the culvert, lifting it out of the road. Use the comealong or a vehicle to pull on the cable, through tackle as necessary, and then bend the culvert when one end is free, leaving it half buried in the road.
Wooden bridges are vulnerable and require a major effort and expense to replace. They can be burned but it takes more than a can of kerosene and a match. A huge pile of dry firewood must be heaped up under the load carrying timbers of the bridge to sustain a fire of sufficient heat and duration to burn a soggy old bridge. Fill the available dry area under the bridge, or crib up a log platform covered with dirt, sand, or rock on which to lay the fire. Several armloads of small stuff, topped with progressively larger limbs and finally logs should be crammed right up to the underside of the timbers. After the small stuff burns a little and the fire collapses, you should stoke it with big limbs and logs and stuff the openings with branches. Then you can walk away confident of the results. (Do not try to burn bridges in drought conditions or fire season. You don't want to be responsible for a forest fire!)
You can also saw through bridge timbers from the underside with a chain, bow, or crosscut saw. It is hard to avoid hitting nails-this conceivably could be dangerous with a chain saw (see the Tree Spiking section in the Developments chapter). If noise is a problem, a bow saw blade cuts easily when sharp and can be quickly replaced when dulled. A few drops of kerosene will make it cut smoothly in resinous or creosote-treated wood.
Simple, safe, and inexpensive methods such as these, done in your spare time, multiplied by dozens of similar actions by other ecodefenders in their particular neck of the woods, can effectively stop the destruction of many of our remaining wild areas by vehicle-borne logging, mining, poaching, and by
* In the proper location, it is possible for a group of people, using only their hands, to fill a road with enough boulders and other debris to act as an effective barrier to most vehicles. While a vehicle with a winch, a bulldozer, or a crew of workers might be able to clear the road to permit passage, most casual ORVers will be stymied. If this kind of minor ecotage of roads occurred often enough and in enough locations, many marginal roads would be abandoned. This type of road trashing can be done casually by a group on a hike, taking care that they aren't caught by ORVers while doing it and being sure that they aren't trapping some poor old fogey in a jeep on a dead-end jeep trail. Although extremely effective, this form of monkeywrenching bears fewer dangers than other kinds.
To effectively close roads, strike at numerous points along a single road, and at many roads within the road network surrounding a wild area. Maintain your campaign against the roads in the area-after they are repaired, strike again, and again, and again. Eventually it will become too costly for the Forest Service or whoever to continue repairing them and roads will begin to be abandoned.
• Keep in mind that as your campaign against roads becomes more effective and costly, your security precautions will need to become more stringent to avoid being caught in an increased law-enforcement campaign to protect the roads.
• Concern about the federal deficit, budget overruns, and deficit timber sales are conducive to citizen road closures. Forest Service and BLM budgets will be tighter in the future. A massive but dispersed campaign of nibbling away at the road infrastructure on the public lands will soon exhaust agency road repair and construction budgets.
• Many Forest Service roads have gates which allow the Freddies to close the roads at will for a variety of purposes (wildlife protection is one reason, but these gates may also be used to keep protesters out of a timber sale area). You can cause confusion by getting cheap padlocks at a city hardware store and closing and locking such gates yourself. A little Liquid Solder in the keyhole prevents the lock from being picked. Most FS gates have a casing around the lock to prevent them from being cut with bolt cutters. See the section on Jamming Locks in the chapter on Miscellaneous Deviltry for other ideas.
· Close a road near the beginning. This keeps vehicles out.
• One of the cleverest monkeywrenching escapades involved a controversial landing strip in the middle of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area in Idaho. In 1986, an unknown person dug 21 holes with a posthole digger in rows three-abreast along the strip. Salt was put into each. Elk and deer pawed up the holes to get the salt and made the dirt strip unusable for aircraft landing.
In the last several years, many experienced monkeywrenchers have come to believe that the most effective single form of ecotage to defend wildlands is to plug culverts on dirt and gravel roads. Flood waters from storms or snowmelt, unable to flow under the road through the culvert, wash out the road, making it impassable. Done at every culvert on a National Forest backroad, the damage is immense, and considerable reconstruction and repair is necessary. Using basic common-sense security techniques, plugging culverts is as safe as any ecotage. It does not carry severe legal penalties (though you still don't want to be caught!). It does not carry a "dangerous" onus like tree spiking. It is simple, quick, easy, and effective!
The idea is to plug the culvert inside the inlet opening so the plugging is not visible to road maintenance crews peering down from the road while leaning on their shovels or by Freddies driving by in their pickups.
In the last several years, many ecodefenders have begun to experiment with culvert plugging. The following are some of the methods developed. See also the section on Plugging Pipes in the Developments chapter for additional ideas. Use your imagination! Culverts are perhaps the most vulnerable part of the wilderness-destroying infrastructure.
1) To take out roads without heavy equipment or back-breaking labor, get some 2 x 4s, chicken wire, black plastic, nails, and staple gun. With such goods, a friend and I plugged six key culverts on one of the most notorious roads ever pushed into a wilderness-all in one night.
These materials and tools are light enough so that you and a friend can pack them into the area-thus not having to drive and leave your vehicle in an incriminating spot. You'll generally be working below the road surface, so even if a car comes, you'll either be out of sight already or you can watch for headlights and duck in time.
Scope out the road ahead of time. Measure the diameters of the culverts at strategic points on the road. Then go home and cut 2 x 4s to fit each of the culverts. For culverts 30 inches and less in diameter, all you'll need are two pieces a few inches longer than the diameter. For larger culverts, you might want more strength than this simple "X" frame can provide. You could use three in the form of a triangle, or four in the shape of a tic-tac-toe. But don't nail them together yet.
You'll also need enough chicken wire and black plastic to cover twice the combined surface areas of your culvert ends. Bring a few pounds of galvanized 16-penny nails (3 inches long), staples and staple gun, hammer, wire cutters, and a pickax.
Nail the 2 x 4s together to make a frame that fits over the uphill end of the culvert. Once you've fitted the frame, cut a piece of chicken wire about four feet wider and taller than the end of the culvert. Center the wire over the frame and liberally staple it in place. Then cut an equivalent piece of black plastic and staple it over the chicken wire. (You may need to use several overlapping pieces.) Place rocks, soil, and other heavy debris on the bottom, top, and side to hold the plug securely in place. (This is where the pickax is handy.)
If there was water flowing through the culvert, it should now be backing up and forming a little reservoir. As long as your frame can support the weight, this lake should grow until it washes over the road. You might want to let some water continue to flow through by poking holes in the bottom of the plastic. This way, your efforts are more likely to remain unnoticed until after the next big rainstorm or until snowmelt. The increased flow during a storm will cause more damage.
2) A very effective way of plugging a culvert is as follows:
- Slide a plywood shelf into the culvert so you can lie on it (see illustration).
- Drill six holes at the lower (downstream) end of the culvert while resting
comfortably on your shelf.
- Twist in heavy eye screws with a section of dowel.
-- Affix doubled-up 1 inch mesh chicken wire to the eye screws.
Flow-borne debris will form a solid plug inside the culvert up against the chicken wire and will block the culvert. None of the blockage should be visible from the road. Cutting the chicken wire after debris piles up against it should not be enough to flush out the culvert. On smaller culverts, simply wad chicken wire a leg's length up the lower end.
3) Corrugated roofing metal or other types of sheet metal are ideal materials for blocking culverts under roads. Use your ingenuity to affix them to the culvert so they will stay in place in high water. (Try using eye bolts as suggested above, or drive large nails into the walls of the culvert.)
4) Steel culverts that are large enough to walk into and difficult to block can be wrenched by punching holes in their bottom with a rock pick. This allows water to seep underneath and cause the gradual washout of the culvert. The damage is irreparable but may take a long time, so plan ahead! This method works best in culvert bridges that are primarily backfilled with dirt.
5) For narrow culverts, make a trip to the auto junkyard and buy some of those collapsed "space saver" spare tires. These little things are hated by anyone who has ever tried using them, so they should be cheap. Position the collapsed spare in the culvert, then inflate it with a bike pump or other inflator. As it expands, it will firmly wedge itself in the culvert. This should be enough of a flow restriction, but you could also plug the "donut' hole with debris.
6) Plug culverts on newer roads that haven't been fully compacted. These wash out more easily. Plug culverts in road sections that have substantial fill on the outlet side. It is more difficult to repair these wash-outs.
7) Since round corrugated metal culvert pipe comes in 2" increments from 6" on up, it makes sense to use round stuff to plug 'em:
-I Volleyballs (@ 8"), soccer balls (@ 9"), and basketballs (@ 9"+) can be used to plug 8 to 12 inch diameter culverts. Partially deflate the ball, shove it into the culvert inlet a short distance, then over-inflate it in place with a small, portable, foot-operated tire pump (available at Sears with pressure gauge, 100 psi maximum, for under $10).
4 For 10 and 12 inch culverts, wrap the ball with absorbent material such as cotton toweling to make up the diameter difference. Cover the ball with debris and rocks, but not past (outside) the pipe opening. All of this stuff can be easily backpacked, and tire pumps and sports equipment are not unusual items to have in your car or truck (the Feds are getting real snoopy these days). No fingerprints!
4 A partially inflated tire inner tube shoved in and pumped up to fill the void might also work. It would be more flexible for various culvert sizes, but would require more pumping. Even a large balloon, like a weather balloon, placed in the culvert and then inflated might work.
- Plastic 5 gallon buckets with lids are a common sight in dumps and along the road. They are about 12" in diameter at the top, and could be wedged into a 12" culvert, tapered end first, then filled with rocks and debris. The round black plastic planter buckets available in nurseries also come in 2 inch increments (12, 14, 16 inches on up) and could be used in the same way.
- Large culverts (16" on up) can be plugged with sandbags, which are routinely used for bank stabilization and temporary road sign ballast. Pick up a few and put 'em in your car trunk or truck bed. The extra weight will give you better traction to get to those hard-to-reach culverts. Unless you're built like Hayduke, it's not advisable to backpack sandbags.
8) To jam a culvert:
A) You can do it like George Stewart in his novel Storm and jam a big old dead hog in it. Naw, too damn heavy to carry up a Forest Service road in a backpack.
B) If the sucker is between, say, six inches in diameter and two feet, you could use plastic two-part expanding wall insulating foam mixed in appropriate amounts in a trash bag which you quickly jam in the culvert as the stuff expands. The trash bag (small for small pipes, large for large ones) will force the foam to inflate across the pipe diameter rather than along its length-thereby plugging it instead of just laying along its bottom.
Buy the two-part (50/50 mix) expanding foam, which comes in 2 one-pint containers (available at most home builder supply stores). It supposedly expands forty times the liquid volume, but assume a 50 percent advertising exaggeration. Therefore, if you have an initial volume of 1 quart (2 pints), expect 5 gallons of foam to fill the pipe. But be scientific and experiment with the stuff before trying it in a culvert you want to plug. The couple of quarts of liquid, trash bags, and expanding foam are easy to carry in a backpack.
C) If the culvert is larger than 2 feet in diameter, you could probably tie several large foam bags together and emplace some kind of cross bracing to jam the pipe. Remember that a hell of a lot of water must be held back to jam a large culvert until the road erodes around the culvert, so think it through to make sure your plug will hold.
Blocking culverts is much better at reducing access to the forest than you might think. The roads the Forest Service must repair will take the same road construction funds needed for new roads. The more we can make them spend repairing existing roads that shouldn't be there anyway, the less they will have to spend on building new roads.
9) Do your culvert plugging before the rainy season or snowmelt in your area. That way your plug need not remain undiscovered for a long time. Otherwise, small backups of water might be visible from vehicles on the road and Forest Service or other road crews would be able to unplug the culvert before a major runoff seriously damaged the roadbed. Watch weather reports and try to plug culverts shortly before major storms are forecast to hit the area.
10) If you don't want to carry anything incriminating into the field for plugging culverts, use large rocks and multi-branched limbs on culverts up to a couple of feet in diameter. Bigger rocks won't wash out readily; dead tree branches with many limbs will jam in place easily. Flood-borne debris will finish the job (especially if you toss a lot of debris in the streambed upstream of the culvert) and even make the washout look "natural." Remember to restore the natural appearance at the mouth of the culvert to avoid tipping off a passing patrol.