How far to the nearest road?

  • Authors: Riitters, Kurt H.; Wickham, James D.
  • Publication Year: 2003
  • Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
  • Source: Front Ecol Environ 2003; 1(3): 125–129


Ecological impacts from roads may be the rule rather than the exception in most of the conterminous United States. We measured the proportion of land area that was located within nine distances from the nearest road of any type, and mapped the results for 164 ecoregions and 2108 watersheds nationwide. Overall, 20% of the total land area was within 127 m of a road, and the proportion increased rapidly with distance, so that 83% was within 1061 m of a road, and only 3% was more than 5176 m away. For forest land area only, the proportions differed by less than 2% for all distances. Regions with more than 60% of their total land area within 382 m of a road may be at greatest risk of cumulative ecological impacts from roads. These regions include nearly all coastal zones, as well as substantial portions of the southeast US and the basins of the Ohio, Brazos, Colorado, Sacramento, and San Joaquin Rivers.

  • Citation: Riitters, Kurt H.; Wickham, James D. 2003. How far to the nearest road?. Front Ecol Environ 2003; 1(3): 125–129
  • Posted Date: April 1, 1980
  • Modified Date: August 22, 2006
  • Print Publications Are No Longer Available

    In an ongoing effort to be fiscally responsible, the Southern Research Station (SRS) will no longer produce and distribute hard copies of our publications. Many SRS publications are available at cost via the Government Printing Office (GPO). Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, printed, and distributed.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.