AbstractBlowing and drifting snow is a major issue in cold regions. Properly designed snow fences have been proven effective in mitigating its negative impacts. Following Federal Highway Administration guidelines, this study performed benefit–cost analyses of three types of snow fences: living snow fences (LSFs), structural snow fences (SSFs), and standing corn rows (SCRs). In addition to installation and maintenance costs, farmland rental, inconvenience cost, and production reduction also were considered. The benefits considered included snow removal cost saving, travel time saving, crash reduction, and emission reduction. The net present value and benefit–cost ratio were used in the analyses. In addition, sensitivity analyses were performed to evaluate the impacts of the analysis period, segment length, number of years for plants to mature, and discount rate on the benefit–cost ratios. The results showed that the benefit–cost ratios for LSFs and SSFs are comparable. However, LSFs are preferable to SSFs because little maintenance is needed after the plants are mature and because of potential environmental benefits of LSFs that were not included in the study. Although SCRs have the highest benefit–cost ratio, the need to renew the agency–landowner agreement annually and the alternating of crops planted may limit their snow-control effectiveness and large-scale implementation. The results indicate that installing snow fences along a segment of moderate length [<9.7  km (6.0 mi)] would achieve a more cost-effective project. For LSFs, it would be beneficial to make a long-term agreement with landowners and select suitable plant species with rapid juvenile growth rates.

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