Resource roads

Resource roads are typically one- or two-lane gravel roads built for industrial purposes to access natural resources in remote areas. Over 620,000 kilometers of roads on the British Columbia landbase are considered resource roads. Resource roads are a highly valued part of B.C.’s transportation network and are essential to economic development.

Last updated: April 15, 2021

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Resource roads are constructed to develop, protect and access B.C.'s natural resources. They are used primarily by industrial vehicles engaged in forestry, mining, oil and gas or agriculture operations. In addition to resource industries, resource roads are used by the general public and commercial operators, such as ski hills or fishing lodges. They serve as crucial links for rural communities and access to recreational opportunities.

Resource roads are not built or maintained to the same standards as paved public roadways. Many resource roads are not maintained for vehicular access. Most resource roads have gravel surfaces and are narrow (often one lane wide). There may be roadside brush limiting visibility, soft shoulders, more and tighter curves, with road grades that are much steeper than are encountered on public highways.

Resource road safety

Resource roads do not have signs or barriers identifying all hazards or dangers. Common hazards on resource roads include:

  • Loose gravel surfaces
  • Potholes
  • Large industrial vehicles
  • High traffic volumes
  • Poor visibility due to brush alignment
  • Dust, fog or smoke
  • Passing or being passed on narrow roads
  • Changing road surface conditions
  • Freezing rain or snow
  • Others failing to follow traffic controls
  • Wildlife and other unmarked hazards

Resource road users travel at your own risk and must drive with caution at all times. 

Before using a resource road, please review the: 

Types of resource roads

In B.C. there are many types of resource roads which are defined as roads found on Crown land that are not part of the provincial highway and byway system. 

The following are not considered resource roads:

  • Public roads and highways (administered by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
  • Municipal roads
  • Rural side roads and roads on private or federally managed land 

The resource roads covered here are related to forest industrial sector use and covered by forest legislation.

The primary forest sector resource roads are road permit roads and Forest Service Roads.

Road permit roads 

The majority of resource roads are permit roads for access to natural resources. Forest Act road permits are issued to forest licensees with a right to harvest timber on Crown land by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Forest Act road permit roads are managed by forest licensees in the forest industry. Other permit roads may be administered by the oil and gas industry or the mining industry.

Forest Service Roads

The B.C. Government administers about 60,000 kilometers of Forest Service Roads (FSRs). FSRs are maintained by the forest industry under road use permits, or where there is no industrial user responsible for maintenance, by the B.C. Government. Where there is no industrial maintainer, the B.C. Government carries out maintenance, subject to available funding. Communities, rural residents and high value recreation sites have priority.

Other forest sector resource roads

Some resource roads have been established by BC Hydro, including roads that access independent power projects and clean energy projects.

Some resource roads will be maintained at a wilderness maintenance level which means they are maintained to protect the environment and not for public or industrial use. These roads are not maintained for vehicular access.

Non-Status Roads (NSRs) are resource roads on Crown land found on maps but have unknown status and origin.

Contracting

Engineering Equipment & Services (EES) is a directory of qualified consultants and equipment available for hire by government for Forest Service Road engineering and construction.