Environmental Management

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 297–309

Optimal Policies for Aggregate Recycling from Decommissioned Forest Roads


DOI: 10.1007/s00267-008-9136-0

Cite this article as:
Thompson, M. & Sessions, J. Environmental Management (2008) 42: 297. doi:10.1007/s00267-008-9136-0


To mitigate the adverse environmental impact of forest roads, especially degradation of endangered salmonid habitat, many public and private land managers in the western United States are actively decommissioning roads where practical and affordable. Road decommissioning is associated with reduced long-term environmental impact. When decommissioning a road, it may be possible to recover some aggregate (crushed rock) from the road surface. Aggregate is used on many low volume forest roads to reduce wheel stresses transferred to the subgrade, reduce erosion, reduce maintenance costs, and improve driver comfort. Previous studies have demonstrated the potential for aggregate to be recovered and used elsewhere on the road network, at a reduced cost compared to purchasing aggregate from a quarry. This article investigates the potential for aggregate recycling to provide an economic incentive to decommission additional roads by reducing transport distance and aggregate procurement costs for other actively used roads. Decommissioning additional roads may, in turn, result in improved aquatic habitat. We present real-world examples of aggregate recycling and discuss the advantages of doing so. Further, we present mixed integer formulations to determine optimal levels of aggregate recycling under economic and environmental objectives. Tested on an example road network, incorporation of aggregate recycling demonstrates substantial cost-savings relative to a baseline scenario without recycling, increasing the likelihood of road decommissioning and reduced habitat degradation. We find that aggregate recycling can result in up to 24% in cost savings (economic objective) and up to 890% in additional length of roads decommissioned (environmental objective).


Aggregate recycling Transportation planning Forest roads Aquatic habitat Road decommissioning Watershed restoration Mixed integer programming Optimization 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forest EngineeringOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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