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New Culvert Design to Benefit Maine Brook Trout Habitat

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Downeast Lakes Land Trust touts new culvert design aimed at restoring trout habitat.


Source: Jen Lynds, Bangor Daily News

Officials with Downeast Lakes Land Trust said that a new project completed with several partners and support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has the potential to be a model for cost-effective restoration of aquatic habitats.

The project is focused on correcting poorly designed culverts that are blocking the natural movement of brook trout and other aquatic wildlife on thousands of streams across Maine.

Mark Berry, executive director of Downeast Lakes Land Trust in Grand Lake Stream, said that restoring free access to habitats is essential to protecting populations of wild brook trout. Maine has more than 80 percent of the remaining U.S. native stocks of brook trout.

Berry said that a concrete arch structure was built by Dirigo Timberlands in North Anson and then installed on Billy Brown Brook, a small tributary to Grand Lake Stream with a history of providing a cold-water summer habitat for brook trout. The road crossing is on property owned by the Lyme Timber Co., and was at risk for washing out when the water level rose. The road provides the only vehicle access between the village of Grand Lake Stream and the trust’s Farm Cove Community Forest, along with state conservation lands along the Machias River extending down to Route 9.

“This concrete arch structure is a new product, and it’s a lot less expensive for a stream of this size,” Berry said. “It opens up the door that we can use this product on more streams in Maine for similar costs.”

The project’s $10,000 price tag was financed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and approximately five workers spent less than a day and a half on the installation.

“This new concrete arch structure holds great promise to provide economic savings and long-term benefits over traditional corrugated metal crossing structures,” said Scott Craig, project leader at the Maine Fishery Resource Office for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The open arch design has proven to be the best choice to restore ecological stream processes that will greatly benefit our headwater brook trout populations.”

Blaine Miller, co-owner of Dirigo Timberlands, said that he was excited about the potential to grow the business through manufacturing arch culvert and bridge products in Maine.

Steven Koening is the executive director of Project SHARE, a cooperative salmon habitat restoration group and partner on the project. He also was excited about the potential of the new arches.

“These concrete arches could be a game-changer for private commercial forest owners that want to do the right thing for trout habitat on brook trout headwater streams,” he said. “I was happy to help Downeast Lakes Land Trust to test this new approach.”

Downeast Lakes Land Trust manages nearly 34,000 acres as a Community Forest, with priorities of wildlife habitat, public recreation, and a sustainable timber economy. The Community Forest includes a network of private roads maintained by the trust to provide access for public recreation and forest management. These roads cross a number of brooks and streams that provide habitat for native brook trout along with other species of fish and wildlife. In many cases, the culverts installed when the roads were built decades ago were not designed to allow the natural movement of fish and other wildlife. Most culverts were too small or not properly placed to provide fish passage and risked failure during high stream flow. As a result, they have contributed to fragmentation of trout habitat.

Downeast Lakes Land Trust is working to replace these older culverts with bridges or bottomless arches that provide a natural stream channel. Over the last six years, the trust has completed restoration projects at 20 road stream crossings with a variety of partners, including local contractors, neighboring landowners, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, state and federal agencies, and Project SHARE.


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Comments (4 posted):

mcnerney on 26/09/2013 11:24:12
Interesting concept, I wish they had shown a photo of the new concrete arch structure, I'm having trouble visualizing what it would look like.
Rip Tide on 26/09/2013 12:39:41
Two years ago in central Vermont, the rains from Hurricane Irene caused major destruction to roads along mountain streams, much like what recently happened in Colorado. One major cause of these road washouts was inadequate culverts that became clogged with debris Driving through that part of Vermont this past summer you were constantly slowed by roadwork as all these old culverts were being replaced by the new concrete arch design Stream Simulation can prevent culvert washouts - and makes fish happy! Benedict Brook Culvert - 2005 | Batten Kill Watershed Alliance http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/viewart/20130206/NEWS07/302060035/Vermont-FEMA-clash-over-new-culvert-funding
mcnerney on 26/09/2013 13:46:32
RIP: Thanks, now I see what they were talking about. Kind of a small scale version of what they installed west of Pinedale for deer and antelope crossing over the hwy. Larry
Rip Tide on 27/09/2013 15:51:08
Here's the culvert from the article while under construction Pretty interesting I need to fix a culvert on my land. I like the looks of this New Method Could Help to Restore Maine Streams | Downeast Lakes Land Trust | Grand Lake Stream, Maine
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maine, Brook trout, Project SHARE

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