Rural Roads Program


The Rural Roads Program was started to reduce excessive sedimentation from roads. Too much sediment can degrade fish habitat, impact bank stability and the stream’s ability to carry floodwaters, and adversely affect drinking water quality, supply and cost. As part of the Rural Roads program, the RCD has been conducting roads assessments, developing strategies to improve the roads, and assisting landowners and managers with proper maintenance of rural roads and sedimentation reducing practices.

Education is a large component of this program. Most recently, the RCD hosted a workshop for equipment operators to learn state-of-the-art techniques for maintenance of rural roads, and to learn the conservation practices critical to minimizing erosion and sediment, and protecting creek habitats.

Erosion is a natural occurrence in most of our local watersheds in coastal San Mateo County. However, human-induced erosion can cause an unhealthy abundance of sediment in our local streams. Excess sediment degrades fish spawning and rearing habitat and impacts aquatic insects that serve as their food. When sediment enters streams excessively, both bank stability and the stream’s ability to carry floodwaters are impaired. Excessive sediment can also adversely affect drinking water quality, supply and cost. Properly maintained private roads reduce runoff that can pollute our local streams and coastal marine resources and minimize other deleterious impacts to aquatic habitat, as well as enhance flood protection efforts and drinking water quality.

To date, the RCD Rural Roads Program provided technical assistance for 96.72 miles of rural roads on 55 properties:

18.36 miles of constructed improvements (implementation phase),
9.61 miles in the completed design phase (ready for construction), and
68.55 miles in the assessment/site visit phase (initial recommendations).

Federal or State recovery plans that prioritize reducing road-related sediment delivery:

  • The Recovery Strategy for California Coho Salmon (California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2004)
  • The Recovery Plan for Evolutionarily Significant Unit of Central California Coast Coho Salmon Final Plan (National Marine Fisheries Service, 2012)
  • The Federal Recovery Outline for the Distinct Population Segment of Central California Coast Steelhead (NOAA, 2007)
  • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Agriculture and Rural Land Action Plan (1999)

Several local watershed assessments and plans also identify a need to address rural roads:

  • The San Gregorio Creek Watershed Management Plan (Stillwater Sciences, 2010)
  • The Pilarcitos Creek Integrated Watershed Management Plan (Philip Williams & Associates, 2008)
  • The Pescadero Butano Watershed Assessment (ESA, 2004)


  • California Coastal Conservancy
  • RCDs of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties
  • NRCS
  • Landowners and managers

RCD Contact: Irina Kogan