Learning about the Importance of Proper Road Construction

It is ironic that roads designed to help people enjoy the Appalachians often destroy the beautiful scenery and clear water that make the mountains so attractive. Poorly constructed access roads often cause severe erosion, and stream sedimentation. These effects can degrade water quality for decades. Erosion can be disastrous in fragile mountain environments, and the landowner must pay for frequent and costly repair of a poorly designed road.”  From The Layman’s Guide to Private Access Road Construction in the Southern Appalachian MountainsUSE. 763.2011_05_11_CWT_0013

Thirty-four people hoping to avoid or fix a poorly designed road attended a recent workshop at the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station Coweeta Hydrological Lab in Otto, North Carolina.  

Lloyd Swift, emeritus scientist and one of the principle authors of the Layman’s Guide quoted above,  and other road planning scientists and engineers  presented information on road planning and layout, new construction, maintenance,  NCDOT rules and regulations, working with contractors, and techniques and tips for reducing erosion.  The workshop was hosted by Coweeta and the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee.   

Attendees ranged from private homeowners hoping to learn ways to improve their driveways, to non-profit staff coming to learn techniques for planning new road construction.  “Like the previous workshop, the participants were interested and engaged.  Many had road maintenance and reconstruction responsibilities for their homeowner associations and were seeking information and help,” said Swift.  

Lloyd Swift shares his wisdom about building and maintaining forest roads. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
Lloyd Swift shares his wisdom about building and maintaining forest roads. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.

During lunch, attendees were presented with resources and information from representatives from the North Carolina State Forest Service, Macon County Soil and Water District and USDA Natural  Resources Conservation Service. In the afternoon, they went on a field trip to see examples of good and bad road construction. The vans to transport the attendees were provided by the Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center.

For more information, email Stephanie Laseter at slaseter@fs.fed.us.

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