Rural Road Ecology & Maintenance – ERM 448

Fall 2019

Tu/Th 1:35--2:50

This fall, Penn State students will again have the opportunity to take a course on rural road ecology and maintenance, developed by the Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies at Penn State. First offered in 2016, the course, ERM 448, is hosted by the Environmental Resources Management Program in the College of Agriculture.

James Noah, who graduated with a degree in civil engineering, couldn’t say enough about his positive experience of the course. “It was an enjoyable course, and I really appreciated the hands-on approach. We learned the basics first through classroom instruction, then went on field trips to see projects and talk about how to handle different problems, both what to do and what not to do. We learned not only how to do road remediation, but also how to cost it out, which is an aspect that not all college courses address. In the real world, that’s what it’s all about.”

The Center has been communicating key principles and advanced practices in road maintenance to working professionals in government and industry through specialized training workshops and courses for nearly 20 years. This new academic course provides students with a fundamental understanding of the interaction of natural systems with unpaved and low-volume paved roads in order to economically maintain roadways with minimal impact on the surrounding environment. The major focus area will be the road/stream interface, including the fundamentals of hydrology, geology, soils, and erosion processes as they pertain to roads and streams.

For students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, this course also qualifies as a technical elective. After completing the course, students are Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance (ESM) certified under Pennsylvania’s Dirt, Gravel and Low Volume Road Maintenance Program. Contact Eric Chase at for more information.

Who should take this course?

Roads are ubiquitous throughout the landscape and this course is intended for students who anticipate working in natural resource fields including:

  • Forestry
  • Environmental Management
  • Fisheries
  • Agriculture
  • Mining
  • Land Use Planning
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering


Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and other protected groups. Nondiscrimination: