Culvert Restoration ProgramThe Bad River watershed is the largest basin on the south shore of Lake Superior. Fish passage and sedimentation at road stream crossings have been identified as major concerns in the watershed. To address this concern, the Bad River Watershed Association (BRWA) initiated the Culvert Restoration Program in 2004 to conduct a watershed wide, quantitative road-stream crossing inventory and identify specific sites that are priorities for remediation. Now SRWA continues this project.
When roads were first built in the region, we focused on getting cars and trucks across the stream. We didn’t consider the potential negative effects that crossings can have on our streams and fish. With over 1,000 road stream crossings in the region, the effects of these crossings on our streams and fish can be significant. Culverts act as barriers to fish by blocking access to quality habitat upstream. For instance, there may be a drop at the outlet that prevents fish from getting into the pipe, or the water may be flowing too fast for fish, especially smaller ones, to make it all the way through a pipe. Road crossings can also have a negative effect by adding sediments into our stream channels when there is a road failure or a regular eroded stream crossing. The extra sediments can cover the stream bottom, smother insects which are the food for fish, and limit spawning success. SRWA’s Culvert Restoration Program aims to:
- Educate citizens about the environmental and fiscal costs of improperly designed and/or installed culverts
- Identify and inventory all road/stream crossings
- Prioritize crossings in need of repair with respect to fish passage barriers and sedimentation
- Search for funding to help pay for new installations
In 2008, Superior Rivers (as the Bad River Watershed Association) published a Culvert Program Strategic Plan using a preliminary needs assessment from our culvert inventory data.