Blowing snow adversely affects winter transportation by reducing driver’s visibility, creating icy roads, and depositing snow drifts in the travel lane. Blowing snow is prevalent in snowy and windy climates where landscapes lack sufficient vegetation to trap snow. Maintaining safe driving conditions on roads with blowing snow can be a costly challenge for transportation agencies. Living snow fences (LSFs) are semi-permanent living structures that can reduce blowing and drifting snow and offer environmental benefits, such as carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat. Recently, shrub willow cultivars (Salix spp.) have been evaluated as a potential LSF due to the relative ease of planting, reduction in plant material costs, fast growth, and ability to establish well given proper site preparation, planting techniques and maintenance. To evaluate the potential of willow for LSFs this study analyzes the costs of planting and establishing a willow LSF and the viability of harvesting biomass. This study finds that the costs of planting and establishing a willow LSF is $8.11 m−1 for a two row snow fence. Biomass harvest is prohibitively expensive for the typical willow LSF due to the small scale of production. However, corridor length willow LSFs, in which planting and establishment costs are defrayed due to payments for the transportation benefits, can produce biomass at a cost of $30 dry-Mg−1.
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© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
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