Rural Roads Webinar Series
Rural roads are defined as low traffic volume roads located in forested and rangeland settings that serve residential, recreational and resource management uses. They may have been constructed to relatively low standards with a limited budget. They may be “legacy” roads that evolved over time to serve present uses from their original uses as railroad grades, wagon trails or historic logging roads. They are commonly one to two lanes wide with natural, gravel or other surfacing. Rural roads may be owned and/or managed by governmental or private parties.
Why Are Rural Roads Important?
Rural roads are the backbone of the transportation system in rural California. Rural areas commonly lack public transportation and residents depend on their private vehicles to get them to work, school and shopping sites. Rural roads also serve millions of recreational users every year. In emergencies such as wild fire and flooding events, rural roads provide the means for emergency response and evacuation.
Rural roads in California are associated with several environmental impacts. They have been identified as a major source of sediment production in watersheds supporting beneficial uses. They can provide the means by which exotic plants and animals and pathogens are spread into wild lands. Roads fragment the landscape and adversely affect wildlife habitat. Vehicles traveling on rural roads are responsible for thousands of road-killed wildlife every year.
Objectives of the Webinar Series
- Provide a broad overview of the environmental issues associated with rural roads in California.
- Describe the fundamental principles of rural road construction, re-construction and operations.
- Describe practices used to minimize the environmental impacts of road construction, operations and maintenance.
- Review methods used for road assessment and inventory to identify problems and maintenance or re-construction or restoration needs.
Three webinar series were offered in 3 consecutive weeks each, with each session lasting 2 hours, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Series 1: Rural Roads and the Environment, May 7th, 14th and 21st, 2012
Rural roads defined, hydrologic/ water quality impacts, geologic constraints on design/ operations, effects on wildlife, exotic species, state/ federal /local regulations
Series 2: Rural Road Design/Operations, July 2nd, 9th, and 16th, 2012
Road standards/ uses, drainage alternatives, stream crossings, erosion control practices, maintaining surfaces/ ditches, maintenance BMPs
Series 3: Rural Road Assessment, Remediation, Restoration, September 10th, 17th and 24th, 2012
Assessment/ inventory, record keeping, prioritizing treatments, monitoring effectiveness, treatment/ maintenance costs, funding treatments
Publications, resources and links for the road webinar series and workshops can be found here.
Rural Road Field Trips
Field trips were held in association with the webinar series to help demonstrate concepts and issues covered in the webinars on October 15th, 22nd and 29th 2012. Field trips included:
October 15th, 2012 Plumas County Fairgrounds in Quincy. Sites were in the Spring Garden-Squirrel Creek area, east of Quincy. The field trip observed road improvement projects on public and private lands including upgraded stream crossings, quarry development, reclamation and management. road engineering treatments in wetlands, installation of out-sloping and rolling dips on previously in-sloped roads, and armored fords as low water crossings.
October 22, 2012 in San Luis Obispo County. This field trip was to a working ranch in Southern Monterey County located near San Miguel (see map, below). Participants observed and discussed the rancher’s solutions to providing stream crossings and managing road runoff as well as the installation of a new road. Road related water quality issues was addressed. This trip was co-sponsored and hosted by the Work Family Ranch.
October 29th, 2012 Mendocino County near the Navarro River where road decommissioning and upgrading have been done on lands owned and managed by Mendocino Redwood Company. The trip visited the North Coast Coho Project, a cooperative restoration effort involving Trout Unlimited, Pacific Watershed Associates, private landowners, government agencies and the public. Objectives were to address sediment sources and conduct instream restoration from the ridgelines to the stream itself. The project included decommissioning 2.6 miles of streamside road and upgrading 4.4 miles of road located upslope. Additional observations were made at other locations en route to the field site. Project proponents will be available to describe it and answer questions from field trip attendees.