Walworth County Public Works Highway Division strives to provide timely and effective winter maintenance services on all county roadways. Our standard is to give motorists passable roadways when winter weather events occur. Each fall, we review our winter maintenance manual and make necessary changes to snow removal strategies and the efficient integration of new equipment.
From time to time, winter maintenance operation messages from county staff to its residents and the traveling public are necessary to increase awareness on various topics. The focus of this year’s message is Snow Fencing.
Blowing and drifting snow jeopardizes public safety, slows down emergency services, interrupts businesses, and increases winter maintenance costs. Annually, the county installs snow fences totaling roughly two miles of state roadway and eleven miles of county roadway (pic above right). Installing a snow fence helps keep the traveling public on the road safer by improving visibility during harsh weather. So how does the installation of temporary fencing accomplish this? As the image above illustrates, this fencing reduces wind speed, causing blowing snow to fall behind the barrier before reaching and accumulating on the adjacent roadway. When the snow is at rest, the particles freeze together, making a snowdrift.
The county also benefits from living—or natural—snow fences. More cost-effective than the annual installation and removal of temporary fencing, living snow fences act much the same as temporary fencing by creating a structural barrier that allows blowing snow to settle in a designated area. However, a living snow fence is more efficient in capturing snow than temporary fencing – capturing up to 12x more snow. In addition, living snow fences offer other benefits and snow containment that improves as the snow fence matures, including increased wildlife and pollinator habitat. Thus, there are many long-term benefits to this alternative. However, a living snow fence may take up to five to seven years to develop and requires regular maintenance as the density of living snow fences will change over time.
Walworth County Department of Public Works staff continues to seek out additional locations for living snow fences. If you have possible sites to recommend for living snow fences, please contact Public Works at (262) 741-3114.