Roads of all kinds from highways to gravel single lane routes provide valuable access to the landscape of Cascadia. Access is needed for land and species management, recreation, and enjoyment. Roads also can pose natural resource risks to the landscape as well from reducing watershed health and security habitats for wildlife to providing vectors that facilitate the spread of invasive plants. Identifying a balanced sustainable road system that provides needed access to our landscape while ensuring healthy watersheds and habitats is a priority that our Partner Forum has identified. In identifying a system is sustainable over time, climate change must be considered.
Climate sensitive questions that can be addressed in access management planning may include:
- Do you already see impacts to your road system now from climate changes (i.e. rain on snow events in recurring locations causing flood damage)?
- How do projections for impacts to hydrology from a changing climate interact with the existing road system? Where are there existing vulnerabilities to the road system from hydrologic events or interactions, and where are these anticipated to be exacerbated with climate change? What recommended action can help mitigate the risk from upgraded culverts and bridges to re-location to decommissioning?
- How does the existing road system interact with adaptation needs of aquatic and terrestrial species on the landscape including the current health of their habitat contributing to resilient populations (i.e. contribution of sediment to spawning rivers, reduction of security habitat for elk, fragmentation of habitats)? What actions can reduce the impact from a wildlife overpass on an interstate to relocation out of a high priority riparian area to restoration?
- Are there anticipated future needs for access for land and resource management emphasized with climate change projects for your landscape (i.e. anticipated long-term fuels reduction and maintenance)?
- Workshop “Climate Change, Hydrology, and Access in the North Cascadia Ecosystem”. North Cascadia Adaptation Partnership, 2011. Link includes agenda and presentations.
- Adapting transportation to climate change on federal lands in Washington State, USA. Strauch, R.L. et al. 2014.
- Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Travel Management Plan webpage – current analysis and public process underway to develop a motor vehicle use map.
- Washington Department of Transportation – Adapting to Change webpage including climate vulnerability reports.
- British Columbia Natural Resource Road Act Project webpage.
- A Summary of the environmental impacts of roads, management responses, and research gaps: A literature review. Patrick Daigle, 2010. Discussion Paper: BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management.
- Cascadia Case Study: Mount Baker National Forest Sustainable Roads Process (complementary climate information) – The Cascadia Partner Forum is working with scientists in our network to bring relevant climate science to complement this national forest’s road analysis and inform future implementation. In 2014 with support from The Brainerd Foundation, we funded a report by Ronda Strauch of the University of Washington applying climate data to identify priority watersheds to address changes to the road system to facilitate adaptation – click here to read this report. With additional support from Sustainable Path Foundation through Conservation Northwest, we built upon this report by down scaling our methodology to identify risk from anticipated climate change impacts to individual road segments within the watersheds on the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest – view this report here.