A review of published research on unpaved road effects on surface-water and shallow ground-water hydrology was undertaken to assist the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado, in understanding factors potentially influencing refuge ecology. Few studies were found that addressed hydrological effects of roads on a comparable area of shallow slope in a semiarid region. No study dealt with road effects on surface- and ground-water supplies to ephemeral wetlands, which on the refuge are sustained by seasonal snowmelt in neighboring mountains. Road surfaces increase runoff, reduce infiltration, and serve as a sediment source. Roadbeds can interfere with normal surface- and ground-water flows and thereby influence the quantity, timing, and duration of water movement both across landscapes and through the soil. Hydrologic effects can be localized near the road as well as widespread and distant. The number, arrangement, and effectiveness of road-drainage structures (culverts and other devices) largely determine the level of hydrologic alteration produced by a road. Undesirable changes to natural hydrologic patterns can be minimized by considering potential impacts during road design, construction, and maintenance. Road removal as a means to restore desirable hydrologic conditions to landscapes adversely affected by roads has yet to be rigorously evaluated.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Road Impacts on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado, with Emphasis on Effects to Surface- and Shallow Ground-Water Hydrology -- A Literature Review