, Director, CINRAM, Forest Resources
Snow and ice problems on Minnesota roadways represent a cost of close to $100 million annually to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) in addition to the associated public safety and environmental costs. MnDOT and the University of Minnesota have collaborated to estimate the costs and benefits of snow control measures as well as the constraints that landowners face to adopt snow fences to control snow and ice problems. Benefits outweigh costs, often by a wide margin, but landowners are constrained by the lack of knowledge and the real and perceived inconvenience of installing, maintaining, and farming around a snow fence. Landowners think that the payments provided by MnDOT to install and maintain a snow fence are an important incentive but want more information about the issues involved with installing and maintaining a snow fence from a trusted source, a peer, or a testimonial. The project goal was to promote greater adoption of measures to address blowing and drifting snow problems through greater landowner and public engagement. To move toward that goal, researchers 1) carried out and prepared a minimum of 30 case studies of landowners who have implemented snow control measures; 2) entered the case studies into a computer and smartphone-based program that can be accessed by MnDOT and landowners; 3) revised and improved a MnDOT snow fence inventory to assist MnDOT in identifying and reporting on snow fences; and 4) developed curriculum and training materials for MnDOT personnel to prepare them for promoting snow control measures.