The little culvert that could
Today we hear from Service biologist Sandra Lary and project partner Karen Robbins as they introduce us to a habitat restoration project that resulted in improved fish passage. The project was highlighted in a video that explains the reasons and workings behind such a valuable partnership.
Throughout the Northeast, decrepit culverts block fish and other wildlife from moving through water systems. We often talk about how a new culvert can allow fish to swim to upstream spawning grounds, but we don’t often consider other implications. These twisted metal culverts are easily clogged and can prevent other aquatic wildlife from moving around freely, which could result in a risky street crossing. In the Town of Arrowsic, Maine, a team of dedicated conservationists decided they couldn’t have that. So, they designed and installed one of the state’s first culverts made for both fish and wildlife.
It was a collaboration between the Town of Arrowsic Conservation Commission, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Service biologists and engineers, and many local landowners and volunteers. The Service also provided funding and technical assistance for this community project.
Sewall Creek is located in midcoast Maine and is a tributary to the lower Kennebec River. Several years ago, a rock-concrete barrier downstream of the road crossing was removed. The removal of this barrier plus the new road crossing (culvert) now allows for free unobstructed movement under the road and into Sewall Pond. This helps not only native sea run fish like alewife and American eel reach historic habitat, but also other wildlife species that use rivers and riverbanks as migratory corridors, including turtles, beaver, mink, muskrat, frogs, and snakes.
Many small projects like this free up and add up to create a larger habitat for fish and aquatic wildlife.
Technical assistance was also provided by the Aquatic Systems Lab at University of Southern Maine, Maine Department of Marine Resources, NOAA, Maine Coastal Program andfunding from numerous state, federal and non-profit entities.
To inform and educate the community about the importance of the project, the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust made this video. Check it out – it features Service employee Sandra Lary!