Unpaved forest roads remain a pervasive disturbance on public lands and mitigating sediment from road networks remains a priority for management agencies. Restoring roaded landscapes is becoming increasingly important for many native coldwater fishes that disproportionately rely on public lands for persistence. However, effectively targeting restoration opportunities requires a comprehensive understanding of the effects of roads across different ecosystems. Here, we combine a review and a field study to evaluate the status of knowledge supporting the conceptual framework linking unpaved forest roads with streambed sediment. Through our review, we specifically focused on those studies linking measures of the density of forest roads or sediment delivery with empirical streambed sediment measures. Our field study provides an example of a targeted effort of linking spatially explicit estimates of sediment production with measures of streambed sediment. Surprisingly, our review uncovered few studies (n = 8) that empirically tested the conceptual framework linking unpaved forest roads and streambed sediment, and the results varied considerably. Field results generally supported the conceptual model that unpaved forest roads can control streambed sediment quality, but demonstrated high-spatial variability in the effects of forest roads on streambed sediment and the need to address hotspots of sediment sources. The importance of context in the effects of forest roads is apparent in both our review and field data, suggesting the need for in situ studies to avoid misdirected restoration actions.
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|note||Al-Chokhachy, R., Black, T. A., Thomas, C., Luce, C. H., Rieman, B., Cissel, R., Carlson, A., Hendrickson, S., Archer, E. K. and Kershner, J. L. (2016), Linkages between unpaved forest roads and streambed sediment: why context matters in directing road restoration. Restor Ecol. doi:10.1111/rec.12365|