Dirt, Gravel, & Low Volume Roads

The Dirt, Gravel and Low Volume Road Program began in 1997 from an initiative by Trout Unlimited in conjunction with Penn State University’s Center for Dirt and Gravel Roads, the State Conservation Commission and local Conservation Districts.

The goal of the program is to reduce pollution to nearby streams while improving the rural road network.


Schuylkill River Trial, Birdsboro

One of the qualification requirements of the Program is to direct funding to “worksites” where road runoff is affecting water quality of the nearby stream. As a result of Act 89 (PA Gas Tax), additional funding has been allocated to the program which will now include Low Volume Roads (<500 vehicles per day).

Technical Assistance is available and provided by the Center for Dirt and Gravel Road studies and the BCCD.

Program Monetary Assistance

Each Conservation District will receive funding from the State Conservation Commission through the PADEP.

  • If a municipality is interested in applying to the program to receive funding for a project, applicants are to prepare and submit a grant application to the BCCD requesting the amount of funding required and any “in-kind” contributions to be allocated towards the project.
  • Up to 50% of the contact amount may be advanced to grant recipients once a contract is signed.
  • Projects greater than $25,000 are subject to provisions of Pennsylvania's Prevailing Wage Act (1961, August 15, P. L. 987, No. 442), 43 P. S. Section 165-1 et seq.  A Contract Amendment must be completed and signed by both entities if project cost overruns totaling 20% or less of the initial contract amount.

Apply for Funding

Qualifying Projects

Projects that qualify for program funding must consist of components that improve the road and the environment. Low Volume Road (LVR) Program projects must contain benefits to both the road systems (i.e. – improved drainage, reduced surface, ditch & bank erosion, smoother surface, more durable surface, reduced maintenance costs, etc.) and the environmental systems (i.e. – water quality, stream quality, reduced storm water flows, improved air quality, increased infiltration).

The following are some components to a Dirt and Gravel road and Low Volume Road improvement project:

  • Road Rehabilitation w/ drainage concerns
  • Stream crossings and pipe culverts
  • High water by-pass
  • Sub-surface drainage and under drain projects
  • Bank / slope stabilization
  • Vegetation
  • Road resurfacing (sealing or paving) may be considered in association with a larger ESM principals. To be considered the following ESM principals must be addressed:
    1. Drainage issues must be properly addressed.
    2. Base instability issues must be properly addressed.
    3. Other necessary and appropriate issues such as bank stability, road entrenchment, vegetation, etc. must be properly addressed.

Helpful Resources

Grant Application Process

1. Eligibility

Applicants (i.e. – townships, boroughs, or a gov’t agency like the PA Game Commission) must have a representative attend Environmental Sensitive Maintenance (ESM) training and acquire the certification. The ESM certification is good for 5 years.

Projects must have an impact on improving water quality.

The road must be a public road (if applying for Low Volume Road Program, less than 500 vehicles per day are to be on the road)

2. “Pre-Application” Submission Site Visit

It is recommended that BCCD and Municipal representatives meet to discuss the project Scope of Work prior to submitting the application.

3. Application Cycle

The BCCD has an open application period and applicants may submit for a grant at any time during the calendar year.

Application forms are available at the BCCD office or by downloading the forms electronically below:

4. Project Ranking

The Conservation District’s Quality Assurance Board (QAB) has developed a written ranking criteria to determine project funding priorities.

5. Project Management and Grant Reporting

If your Municipality is awarded a grant, you will be expected to enter into an agreement with the Berks County Conservation District.  The following documents will aid you in your project.  Specific guidance will be given to you upon award announcement.

6. Notification

The applicant must notify the Conservation District in advance as to when the project will start.

Quality Assurance Board (QAB)

A Quality Assurance Board (QAB) has been created in by the Berks County Conservation District to establish and administer the grant program.

The QAB is responsible to encourage local cooperation with environmental quality goals, to provide adequate opportunity for public input, and to ensure participation amongst a wide spectrum of environmental expertise at all levels of government.

The board is comprised of a variety of public interest groups including:

  • A local Representative appointed by the BCCD
  • The Berks County Conservation District
  • A member of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Service

Members of the QAB include:

  • Piper Sherburne, Chair
  • Jason Bailey, Voting Member, BCCD
  • Nick Ramsey, Voting Member, NRCS
  • TBD, Voting Member, Fish and Boat Commission

Berks County Conservation District 1238 County Welfare Road, Suite 200, Leesport, PA 19533  •  610-372-4657

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