Roads and Streams

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Roads are the initial impacts to watershed functions at the earliest phases of development. Roads enable all subsequent land cover changes. Roads are designed on contour, crossing drainage pathways, and so intercept both surface and subsurface flows, which are managed through ditches, that effectively expand the watershed drainage network. This changes watershed hydrology, and in our maritime climate effectively begins the dehydration of landscapes and the degradation of aquatic ecosystems.


  • Bowling and Lettenmaier 1997 explored drainage network change caused by roads as part of the Timber Fish and Wildlife program, completing model analysis and observations.
    • Road effects on hydrology vary depending on the number of locations where concentrated flows are released downstream of the road, and the character of these flow release points.