Following a management plan developed by Trout Unlimited and funded by the Hudson River Estuary Program in partnership with NEIWPCC, the town of Copake, NY recently completed the construction a new road culvert, replacing one that was severely in need of repair. The old culvert had posed a significant threat to the community’s infrastructure and presented a barrier to aquatic organisms.
Funded by the Environmental Protection Fund as administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, NEIWPCC and the Estuary Program teamed up with Trout Unlimited, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of freshwater streams and rivers, to collaborate with the town to evaluate and rank its road stream crossings. Their survey resulted in choosing a site at Yonderview Road, in which the culvert, a channel that allows water to flow under the road, was found to be undersized and in poor condition. The planning process included development of conceptual designs for the replacement.
Estuary program staff were involved in the project’s launch, educating the community and stakeholders on the importance of well-designed road stream crossings for aquatic connectivity and ecology, water quality and flood resiliency. “To the best of my memory,” said NEIWPCC Environmental Analyst Megan Lung, “this is the first site where a town has gone through our management plan approach and replaced a structure on their own. Our work and partnerships have empowered local municipalities to implement on the ground restoration.”
In its inadequate and damaged state, the Yonderview Road culvert impeded fish passage, reducing opportunities for spawning and survival, which can impact the population sustainability for migratory fish such as trout. The new culvert’s dome-shaped design allows the stream bed to remain intact so that the water flows naturally and fish are able to move easily through the stream at ground level. This ensures that the fish are able to feed, find cooler water, avoid predators, and reach their spawning habitat.
Undersized culverts also present a danger to communities that experience frequent and severe flooding. The new culvert at Yonderview Road will improve the town’s flood resiliency, protecting both public safety and the health of the ecosystem.