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.

This old culvert block important waterways for fish and other wildlife passage. Photo credit: Karen Robbins

This old culvert blocked important waterways for fish and other wildlife passage. Photo credit: Karen Robbins

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.

Partners working together on the culvert project. Photo credit: Karen Robbins

Partners working together on the culvert project. Photo credit: Karen Robbins

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.

Installing the new culvert. Photo Credit: Karen Robbins

Installing the new culvert. Photo Credit: Karen Robbins

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 and​funding 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!

For more information, please see the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program and the National Fish Passage Program.

3 Comments on “The little culvert that could

    • Thanks! The video shouldn’t be set to private and doesn’t appear so. It is a partner’s video so I am unsure if they changed viewing settings at some point.

      Thank you!

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