Erosion and Sediment

Poorly maintained or badly constructed roads and excavation sites are a major source of sediment pollution in our watersheds. The heavy winter rains experienced by our bioregion put a tremendous amount of water onto road systems, transferring vast amounts of loose sediment into our creeks and rivers. Poorly maintained or plugged culverts can lead to catastrophic failures that can severely damage roads and nearby streams. This degrades or eliminates habitat essential to fish and other aquatic life and can cause sediment dams to occur leaving isolated pools that fish can’t get to or escape from.


  • Reduce erosion by maintaining waterbars and keeping culverts clear, especially during heavy rains. Slow down water runoff and catch sediment where muddy water leaves the road by building simple check dams out of rocks, logs, brush, etc.
  • Be aware that choosing to use heavy equipment to develop your property has serious short- and long-term impacts. Be sure to hire experienced and reputable operators instead of doing it yourself! Un-permitted grading and/or road construction is illegal and can lead to heavy fines.
  • Put gravel on all dirt roads and be sure to seed and mulch all disturbed areas and bare soil prior to the rainy season.
  • Do not incorporate slash, brush, branches, or tree trunks into road prisms, sidecast material, clearings, landings, etc. This organic material will quickly rot and the overlying soil will slump and create additional sedimentation problems.
  • You can find more practical tips by downloading Rural Roads: A Construction
  • and Maintenance Guide for California Landowners