Getting Across: Aquatic Organisms and Road-Stream Crossings, A Brief Introduction


■■>>MUCH OF AMERICA’S F■RESH■ WAR FLOWS THROUGH NATIONAL FORESTS. 200,000 MILES OF RIVERS ANDÑc STREAMS FEED WATERSHEDS AND PROVIDE HABITAT FOR AQUATIC SPECIES. BUT FOR EVERY MILE OF WATERWAY, THERE ARE TWO MILES OF ROADS. AND WHERE ROADS CROSS THE WATER■ YOU’LL FIND CULVERTS AND PROBLEMS. THE USDA FOREST SERVICE SAYS MANY CULVERTS ARE ACTING AS DAMS THAT PREVENT PASSAGE OF FISH AND OTHER ORGANISMS.>>WE USED TO LOOK AT ROAD/STREAM CROSSINGS AS BASICALLY AN ENGINEERING PROBLEM — TODAY, HOWEVER, THOUGH, IT’S THE HEALTH AND DIVERSITY OF OUR WATERSHEDS THAT IS THE ISSUE.>>Narrator: CULVERTS CAN CHANGE WATER VELOCITY AND FLOW RATES AND CAUSE OTHER PROBLEMS THAT BLOCK PASSAGE FOR AQUATIC LIFE, INCLUDING SPECIES THAT ARE THREATENED, ENDANGERED, OR OF SPECIAL CONCERN.>>Woman: THE WATER VELOCITIES INSIDE OF CULVERTS OFTEN EXCEED THE SWIMMING CAPABILITIES OF MOST ADULT TROUT, AND TYPICALLY ARE FAR BEYOND WHAT MOST JUVENILES CAN SUSTAIN. DURING DRY SEASONS, THE DEPTHS WITHIN THE CULVERT CAN BECOME SO SHALLOW THAT MOST AQUATIC ORGANISMS CAN’T GET THROUGH THE PIPE.>>Man: A MUSSEL THE SIZE OF YOUR HAND CAN FILTER ABOUT A QUART OF WATER PER HOUR. THEY’RE SEDENTARY ANIMALS — THE ONLY WAY THEY CAN DISPERSE IS BY MEANS OF THE FISHES ON WHICH THEIR LARVAE LIVE FOR A BRIEF PERIOD BEFORE THEY METAMORPHOSE INTO ADULT MUSSELS■ SO MOST OF THEIR MOVEMENT IS CONCENTRATED IN THIS LARVAL STAGE AS THEY HITCHHç■IKEo■7ñ?■■ ON FIS>çHES, AND SO BARRIERS TÑÑ PASSAGE COULD LIMIT THE DISTRIBUTION OF FRESHWATER MUSSELS IN STREAM SYSTEMS.>>Narrator: IN THE CLEARWATER NATIONAL FORESDT, ABODUT HDALDFD THE STREAM CROSSINGS ARE ACCIDENTAL BARRIERS, BUT FIXING THE CULVERTS IS RESTORING THE HABITAT.>>I DID A SPAWNING SURVEY UP THE STREAM AND FOUND EVIDENCE OF BULL TROUT SPAWNING, WHICH HADN’T BEEN SEEN IN A WHILE — FOR ABOUT 50 YEARS. AND JUST LAST SPRING, TWO STEELHEAD WERE ACTUALLY SEEN IN THE CREEK, SPAWNING. SO THAT WAS GREAT. [ CHUCKLES ]>>Narrator: MANY OF THE STREAMS WITH CROSSINGS CONTAIN LITTLE OR NO GAME FISH. BUT EXPERTS SAY IMPROVING PASSAGES IS A PRIORITY AND AN INVESTMENT IN THE FUTURE.>>Man: UNDER THE ENDANGERED■@ SPECIES AND CLEAN WATER ACTS, WE’RE RESPONSIBLE FOR ENSURING FREE PASSAGE OF NATIVE AQUATIC SPECIES IN THE WATERWAYS OF THE NATIONAL FOREST SYSTEM. NOT ONLY IS IT THE RIGHT THING TO DO, BUT I BELIEVE WE FACE SUBSTANTIAL BIOLOGICAL, LEGAL, AND CREDIBILITY RISKS IF WE FAIL TO REDEEM OUR STEWARDSHIP RESPONSIBILITIES TO THESE RESOURCES.■7■7■7>>THESE ACCESS CORRIDORS, THEY’RE THE TRUE WEALTH OF OUR NATION. THAT’S HOW WE PROVIDE THE STANDARD OF LIVING THAT IS SO IMPORTANT TO AMERICANS. ALONG WITH THAT STANDARD OF LIVING AND THE QUALITY OF LIFE, THOUGH, IS OUR INTERRELATIONSHIP WITH OUR ENVIRONMENT — AND AMERICANS WANT TO HAVE THAT RELATIONSHIP WITH THE OUT OF DOORS, THEY WANT TO PROTECT OTHER SPECIES, THEY WANT THAT QUALITY OF LIFE. 1

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