Protecting soil and water in forest road management.
The National Forest road system is the network that supports public recreation, which has become the primary use of the public lands. The pattern of use of National Forest roads for recreation has increased dramatically since the late 1940s and is expected to continue to increase beyond the rates observed today. However, research over the past 60 years clearly presents forest roads as a major source of sediment and soil erosion from forest watersheds. Threats to healthy forests have received increased attention in the past decade. In particular, roads, road management, and travel management will likely be critical to addressing the four threats to the health of the nation's forests and grasslands that were identified by USDA Forest Service. Road management is an important component in preserving and maintaining healthy forests throughout the nation. Sediment export from the existing forest road network is an issue of great concern in forest management. The objective of this article is to provide an overview of issues involved in managing the nation's public forest roads for the protection of soil and water. This article explores the benefit and efficacy of erosion mitigation, sediment control, and road BMPs in protecting soil and water. This article also suggests areas requiring additional research and development to satisfy the goals of protecting forest soil and water.