Road reclamation has emerged as an integral part of ecological restoration strategies, particularly on public lands. However, there are no consistent techniques for how road reclamation should be implemented to restore ecosystem structure and function. Resource managers are hindered by critical research gaps regarding the linkages between, as well as the effects of different restoration actions on, above- and belowground ecological and hydrological properties. In the western US, we examined how two road reclamation methods (recontouring and abandonment) affect ecosystem properties relative to "never-roaded" areas. Recontoured and abandoned sites displayed similar aboveground properties but exhibited notable differences in belowground properties, including soil hydraulic conductivity, organic matter, total carbon, and total nitrogen, among others. Our findings suggest that recontouring can dramatically accelerate recovery of above- and belowground properties so they resemble never-roaded reference conditions. In contrast, abandoning roads generates above- and belowground properties that follow a different path to recovery.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics