NAACC Partners Complete Stream Crossing Surveys

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NAACC Partners Complete Stream Crossing Surveys

Over the past year the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative ( NAACC ) has been working to increase connectivity of rivers and streams in the northeast by addressing fragmentation and obstructed flow through barriers such as culverts and bridges. The NAACC developed a standardized protocol for both citizen scientists and professionals to evaluate stream crossing impacts on hydrology so that the streams can be ranked to prioritize conservation efforts. In addition, the site hosts a database to compile the surveys as well as a map of the watersheds.

image of bridge over Ten Mile River in New York, Credit; Charles Fulton, Flickr

In June 2015, Trout Unlimited (TU) began work on the Lower Willowemoc Creek in the Catskill region of New York. This tributary of the Beaverkill was prioritized by TU because of its importance for spawning native and wild trout in the Upper Delaware River watershed. Based on the NAACC prioritization metrics, the creek received a 3 on a scale from 1 to 20, where 1 is the highest priority. TU designed and completed a formal road crossing survey of the Willowemoc Creek so that the barriers could be prioritized for removal. Fifty-three crossings were surveyed and modeled for aquatic passage, geomorphic compatibility, and hydraulic capacity. Twenty-five percent of the crossings were classified as no AOP (Aquatic Organism Passage), 38 percent as moderate AOP and 38 percent as full AOP. Geomorphic capability was compromised on 75 percent of the crossings, with culverts creating the worst geomorphic issues. The results from this study included several culverts ranked as high priority for removal, and these will be further reviewed so that the culverts can be replaced with ecologically and hydraulically appropriate structures.

The Lower Hudson Coalition of Conservation Districts also began work in the summer of 2015 to study stream crossings in two watersheds in Dutchess County, New York that received high priority rankings through the NAACC prioritization metrics. The conservation districts surveyed 110 crossings in the Lower Ten Mile River Watershed and 46 crossings in the Cold Spring Creek Watershed. All crossing surveys were added to the NAACC database. The surveys in Cold Creek complement 2014 surveys in adjacent watersheds, and the surveys in the Lower Ten Mile River were among the first of their kind in the watershed. The conservation districts will provide the results of the surveys to their municipalities to be used to prioritize replacement projects at culverts that are most important for flood damage prevention and habitat restoration.

More information about the NAACC, including how to become involved or get training, is available at the NAACC website.

September 20, 2016