U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center



Date of this Version

December 1999


Published by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Idaho Resource Conservation and Development Association, USDA National Agroforestry Center, Lincoln Nebraska. December 1999.


Blowing and drifting snow has created problems for people ever since they stated their td to the West. Pioneers left Missouri in early spring to avoid deep snow in the mountains and blizzards on the plains. As early as 1905, railroad companies planted trees as barriers to control blowing snow along rights-of-way. By 1915, the. Great Northern Railway Company reported it had planted half a million tree seedlings.

Winter winds and snow have the power to disrupt our lives. Almost every year we hear local radio stations announce school closures became of blowing and drifting snow. Sometimes it's only a small segment of a road subject to drifting that causes miles of the road to be closed. Snow drifts jeopardize public safety and emergency services, interrupt businesses, and increase livestock and wildlife mortality.

Snow fences are a proven technique for reducing the impact of blowing and drifting snow. These structural barriers, commonly made of slated or picket fences, are placed to interrupt blowing snow. With an action similar to a rock placed in a flowing stream, they cause an eddy effect that alters wind speed and direction, allowing snow to settle out.

Snowplows provide a fast, efficient way to keep roads open, but annual costs are often high. When roads are subject to reaming snow blockage, a more permanent, cost-effective solution is desirable and often needed.