ESM Course

The Center's Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance (ESM) Course is a classroom training focused on providing the knowledge and tools necessary for road owners to maintain roads in a more cost-efficient and environmentally sensitive manner. The course is free to municipal, county, and state agencies involved with PA's Dirt and Gravel Road Program. The course is also free to private contractors participating in DGLVR projects. This course provides Continuing Education Units and PDH credits (Professional Development Hours) through the PSU College of Engineering. Course certification is required in order to be eligible to apply for PA Dirt, Gravel, and Low Volume Road Program grant funds.


ESM Courses During Coronavirus Pandemic

Because of Coronavirus issues in 2020, the format of the ESM training has been temporarily changed in order to provide more training opportunities. First, the length of the training has been reduced from ~12 hours to ~8 hours. This will allow in-person ESM trainings to be held in a single day instead of two consecutive days. This change will allow more individuals to be certified since attendance at in-person trainings will be limited to allow for social distancing. In addition to in-person ESM trainings, the Center will also hold Remote Online ESM trainings for the first time. These sessions will also be ~8 hours, and will be held in two 4 hour blocks on consecutive days. These changes should be considered temporary and will be re-evaluated at a future time. For more details, dates, and registration information, see the links below (or access them from the menu on the left):

Both the remote and in-person training provide attendees with a certification to apply for DGLVR funds for 5 years, expiring December 31st of the 5th year. Certifications that expired on 12/31/2019 (last took training in 2014) have been EXTENDED and are eligible to apply through 12/31/2020 due to the coronavirus impacts and lack of available trainings in 2020.


Program Eligibility

Anyone involved in the maintenance of unpaved and/or low volume roads will benefit from the practices taught in this course that are designed to reduce sediment pollution and long-term road maintenance costs. All entities interested in the Dirt & Gravel Roads Program are encouraged to attend, i.e. District Staff, QAB, Staff Assistant, etc.

Potential Grant Applications: In order to be eligible to apply for Program funds, the person in charge of work plan development and project implementation from the road-owning entity must have attended environmentally sensitive maintenance (ESM) training within the past five (5) calendar years. This training, and all past ESM trainings, counts as eligibility to apply for BOTH Dirt and Gravel and (paved) Low Volume Road funds for a period of five (5) calendar years.

Conservation Districts: ESM training is mandatory for at least one district representative on the QAB, and for the district staff person(s) most involved with the Program, and is valid for (5) calendar years.

Bureau of Forestry: ESM training is mandatory for at least one person involved with the Program in each Forest District, and is valid for (5) calendar years.

Other Personnel: Any other personnel involved in the Program (i.e., PADEP, PennDOT, etc.) who are interested in receiving ESM training every 5 years to maintain Program eligibility.

Private Entities: Private entities involved in DGLVR projects (such as engineers, bidders, and contractors) are encouraged to attend this training free of charge, but their attendance does NOT count as certification for municipalities. Someone from the road-owning entity must still attend to become eligible to apply for funding. Private contractors NOT involved in DGLVR projects, or other entities, such as homeowners associations or private conservancies, should contact the center about attending, and will have to pay a fee.


Course Resources

  • Currently Registered Attendees: A list of the currently registered attendees with their class location and affiliation. Coming Soon

  • Eligibility List (563 KB): List of attendees from past trainings. Townships in PA are required to have attended the ESM Course within the past 5 years in order to be eligible for Dirt and Gravel Road Program Funding. (Updated 6/1/2020)

  • Eligibility List Extension (275 KB): This is a listing of people who last attended an ESM training in 2014. Because ESM trainings have not been held in 2020 due to the Coronavirus, the SCC has approved these attendees as eligible to apply for DGLVR funding for an extra year, through 12/31/2020.

  • ESM Training Guide and Take-Home Reference Book (7.12 MB): The follow along training guide and take-home reference book provided at each training. (2018)

  • ESM Field Guide: Field Guide for Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance of Unpaved Roads.


For Additional Information

Center for Dirt and Gravel Roads
215 Transportation Research Building
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 865-5355
Fax: (814) 863-6787
Toll-free: (866) NOTOMUD (866-668-6683)
E-mail: dirtandgravel@psu.edu