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Blowing and drifting snow on Minnesota's roadways is a transportation efficiency and safety concern. Living snow fence is an agroforestry system involving planting of woody/tree species such as hybrid poplars, willow, other shrubs and pine trees along drifting snow areas. Establishing living snow fences improves driver visibility and road surface conditions and has the potential to lower costs of road maintenance, reduce accidents attributed to blowing and drifting snow, sequester carbon, and avoid the carbon emissions of snow removal operations. In recent years the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) has paid farmers to leave standing corn rows to protect identified snow problem roadways. It also encourages farmers to plant living snow fences for such purpose but the adoption is too low. With increasing demand for corn to fuel the ethanol industry, paying $1.50 per bushel above market rate may not be sufficient incentive for leaving standing corn rows or to take land of production. With MNDOT's Memorandum of Understanding with USDA to plan living snow fences through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), now is an opportune time to review MNDOT's annual payment structure to farmers and prepare a new one. This project aims to 1) develop a calculator to estimate payments for farmers that will include considerations of safety and snow removal cost savings using living snow fence agroforestry systems; 2) work closely with MNDOT's engineers and plow operators to estimate the safety and snow removal costs and carbon emissions avoided through establishing living snow fences; and 3) evaluate farmers' willingness to establish snow fence and identify farmers/landowners constraints to adoption. This data will be provided to MNDOT to assist them in their decision making related to their living snow fence program, and data will be useful for other states wishing to address drifting snow problem areas using agroforestry systems.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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