Assessment and placement of living snow fences to reduce highway maintenance costs and improve safety (living snow fences).
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Assessment and placement of living snow fences to reduce highway maintenance costs and improve safety (living snow fences).

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  • Abstract:
    Living snow fences (LSF) are designed plantings of trees and/or shrubs and native grasses along highways, roads

    and ditches that create a vegetative buffer that traps and controls blowing and drifting snow. These strategically

    placed fences have been shown to be cost effective in reducing highway maintenance associated with blowing and

    drifting snow conditions.

    The objective of the study is to equip Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) with the tools and

    knowledge to expand the use of living snow fences. These tools should provide a roadmap for local CDOT

    maintenance staff which includes: Identifying the best locations, Identifying land owners and securing their

    cooperation, Engaging resource agency support of the design and establishment, Insuring initial maintenance,

    Tracking these assets over time and documenting the benefits


    To initiate the study the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) conducted an informal survey of Colorado Natural

    Resources Conservation Districts, CDOT Maintenance supervisors, and CSFS field offices to inventory existing

    LSFs along Colorado state highways. The inventory identified approximately 177 existing LSFs along state

    highways. Training sessions designed to meet the study objectives were held for CDOT staff in each of five CDOT

    Regional Offices. A notebook entitled “Colorado Living Snow Fence Guidelines and Short Course” was prepared

    and provided to attendees at these sessions. The notebook contained a PowerPoint training presentation with notes

    along with all reference material used for the training. The training sessions were attended by 60 CDOT employees

    and 7 CSFS foresters. Three methods for CDOT to implement a LSF program at either a local or state wide basis

    were provided: Conduct a program entirely within CDOT; involve other partners in an interagency cooperative

    program; or for CDOT to provide funding for another agency to manage and implement a program with this being

    the preferred alternative due to expertise and landowner relationship needs.

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