Stream Access Control with Fencing (Livestock Stream Crossing)


A stream crossing provides a hard, stable, safe area where cattle or equipment can cross a stream without damaging the streambed or banks.

Initiation protocol:

Contact the local Soil Conservation District office for design specifications and planning assistance.

Public acceptance:

This practice is widely accepted as it has many benefits including: providing livestock access to all pastures; livestock are encouraged to use the crossing instead of the streambed to navigate streams; crossings allow vegetation to stabilize streambanks while promoting wildlife habitat; reduces the risk of livestock injury due to unstable footing in stream channels; minimizes the risk of livestock breaking through frozen stream surfaces in the winter; and improves cattle health by keeping animals out of the mud.

Implementation Factors (level of difficulty):


Funding Sources / Options:

Grants are available through the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost Share (MACS) Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).


Costs estimated as $ per acre of practice installed.

Cost Estimates EPA MDA Average
Initial $36,038 $931 $18,484.50
Annual $- $- $-
Lifespan (yrs) 15 10 15
Annualized $2,402.53 $93.10 $1,247.82

Note: EPA estimate is an average of unit cost with and without stream crossing.

Load Reduction Efficiency:

Average Total Nitrogen removed per acre of practice per year


39.71 lbs.


109.41 lbs.


204.68 lbs.

Cost per pound removed = between $1 and $2

Average Total Phosphorous removed per acre of practice per year


4.78 lbs.


11.96 lbs.


21.31 lbs.

Cost per pound removed = between $4 and $19

Average Total Suspended Solids removed per acre of practice per year


255 lbs.


2,898 lbs.


8,390 lbs.

Cost per pound removed = between $0.01 and $0.37

Operation & Maintenance:

If livestock use the crossing, make sure that fences are in place. Inspect after major storm events. Remove any accumulation of organic material, woody material or excess sediment.  Replace surfacing stone used for the livestock crossing as needed.

Climate Change Considerations:


Planning Questions to Consider:

How will livestock be excluded from the stream? Can a livestock watering system be installed? Are soil conservation measures in place? Have upstream conditions been considered?

Technical Notes:

Follow NRCS specifications. All work must comply with federal, state and local requirements.


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