Watershed Restoration Program Success Story

Nez Perce National Forest – Road Decommissioning

The Nez Perce National Forest and the Nez Perce Tribe have worked together since 1996 to decommission roads on the National Forest under a watershed restoration partnership. Over 280 miles of problem roads have been decommissioned since 1996. Most of these have been decommissioned in partnership areas where the Tribe contributes funds and labor directly to the project. In 2008, the Tribe and Forest initiated this strategy within the South Fork Clearwater River drainage.

A road washing out around an improperly sized culvert.
Water quality is impacted from road-related erosion and improperly sized culverts.

Habitat conditions along approximately 18.5 miles of stream were improved for bull trout, steelhead trout, spring Chinook salmon and west slope cutthroat trout by removing existing sediment sources using fisheries funds (National Fish and Wildlife Foundation), other Forest funds, partnership funds from the Nez Perce Tribe, and funds received under the Economic Recovery Act. Approximately 51 miles of road were decommissioned at two locations within the South Fork Clearwater River. The removal of culverts via road decommissioning reduced the potential for culvert failures and subsequent channel degradation. In addition, the Forest completed five road improvement projects (resurfacing, drainage improvements, etc.) within the South Fork Clearwater River and Selway River subbasins using Economic Recovery Act funds and Forest funds. These projects improved habitat conditions along 7.6 miles of stream via removing or reducing sediment sources.