J. Stream Crossings and Aquatic Restoration: Available Tools and Resources

Afternoon Session – 1:30PM-4:00PM
Washington/York Room (2nd floor)

If possible, participants are asked to bring their own laptops to this session. The tools run exclusively on web browsers, so no special software or prior knowledge is needed.

Session Co-Chairs:

This session is for anyone with road-stream crossing, flood risk, aquatic connectivity, and habitat restoration project prioritization or implementation questions. Topics will focus on technical resources: including prioritization tools for site selection, methods for restoration, and the assistance programs available to different groups including agencies, municipalities, landowners, land trusts, and other civic organizations.  Sessions will include workshop-style opportunities for participants to engage with different online tools appropriate to their needs in addition to seeing examples of how these tools have already been used.

Session Overview

Session Abstracts

Presenters are indicated in bold font.

USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service Technical and Financial Assistance Resources for your next Aquatic Restoration Project

A pdf of this presentation is available. Please send any questions to Chris Reidy

Ben Naumann, Christopher Reidy

Are you looking for technical assistance and/or potential funding for your next conservation project, or a more resilient stream crossing? Navigating through the sea of federal funding sources for conservation can be daunting; however, many opportunities for your project are available. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works closely with private landowners, managers, and partners who are interested in voluntary conservation on private land and beyond. NRCS may provide both technical and financial assistance for a variety of resource concerns including aquatic resources. NRCS programs (including RCPP, EQIP, NWQI, and PL-566 Watershed Program) focus on addressing resource concerns through a variety of land management, partner, and innovative initiatives. This session will provide an introduction to NRCS technical and financial assistance and will highlight NRCS project examples to help you formulate your own projects. Time will be provided to answer questions concerning specific conservation goals NRCS can assist with.

Stream Smart and Stream Crossing Funding Opportunities

A pdf of this presentation is available. Please send any questions to Sarah Haggerty

Sarah Haggerty
Maine Audubon

If you’ve heard of Stream Smart, you already know it’s a road-stream crossing design methodology aimed at restoring aquatic and terrestrial habitat connectivity and ecosystem function, all while protecting our roads and public safety. If you’ve attended one of our training sessions, you also know it involves rethinking the way we design and build stream crossings in order to ultimately “let the stream act like a stream.” Often, the way to do this is to design and build a larger structure than the one originally installed, preferably with an open bottom, which may require a little more engineering and cost more than just replacing one undersized pipe with another undersized pipe. In this session, we’ll share the basics of the Stream Smart principles and run through several funding opportunities, with their requirements, that may be available to help defray the costs of building Stream Smart crossings to restore ecosystem function and to protect investments in infrastructure. We’ll cover opportunities in the federal, state, and private realms designed to improve fish and wildlife habitat and protect roads and public safety. These funding opportunities help cover the additional costs needed to make an undersized culvert into a true stream crossing, where the road is invisible to the stream. There is once-in-a-generation funding available to improve aquatic systems, and we want to help you take advantage of this opportunity.

Optimizing Stream Crossing Barrier Removal for Salmon Restoration

A pdf of this presentation is available. Please send any questions to Christian Fox.

Michael Burke1, Sean Morrison1, Steve Tatko2, Christian Fox3
1. Inter-Fluve
2. Appalachian Mountain Club
3. The Nature Conservancy in Maine

Headwater stream connectivity throughout Maine is fragmented by thousands of barriers, mostly underperforming road-stream crossings, preventing access to critical habitat by salmon and other sea-run fish. Replacing these with stream simulation design structures is a proven strategy to restore access while at the same time improving transportation infrastructure. However, these projects are expensive and there is limited engineering and construction capacity available. Consequently, implementation of road stream crossing replacement projects must be strategic and coordinated. A recent Optimization Analysis applied to the Piscataquis River watershed takes the Statewide Barrier Prioritization data to the next level. The analysis optimizes across the watershed to identify populations of projects that together offer “the best bang for the buck” to achieve maximum reconnection of high-quality salmon habitat for available budget levels. This optimization analysis utilizes the OptiPass1 model which allows the user to create a suite of optimized restoration scenarios under various budget conditions and other constraints utilizing best-available ecological, replacement cost estimate, and infrastructure datasets. This presentation will summarize methodology, results, and next-steps for method application and use of study outcomes.

Afternoon Break

Online Stream Connectivity Decision Support Tools

Merry Gallagher1, Hadley Couraud2
1. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
2. The Nature Conservancy in Maine

During the workshop portion of this session, Merry and Hadley will provide an overview of three online tools to help inform and prioritize decisions about restoration sites. We will review the data available in the Maine Stream Habitat Viewer and the Culvert Flood Risk Explorer as well as the capability and use of the Aquatic Barrier Prioritization Tool. These three tools integrate culvert geometry and associated stream morphology at over 27,000 road-stream crossings across the entire state of Maine, providing site-specific information and restoration prioritization based on geography, fish biology and habitat needs, and road flood risk. After a brief overview of each tool, participants will choose to work through one of two guided exercises – one using the Habitat Viewer and Flood Risk Explorer, and one using the Prioritization Tool. We will close with a Q&A and open discussion. If you are able, please bring your own laptop on which to practice. The tools run exclusively on web browsers, so no special software or prior knowledge is needed!

About Our Session Chairs

Eileen Bader Hall
Freshwater Restoration Manager, The Nature Conservancy
Eileen is a member of TNC’s freshwater team and works with private landowners, municipalities, and a myriad of dedicated federal, state, NGO, and tribal partners to implement high-leverage strategies to accelerate the momentum of river restoration in Maine, and is now supporting several high priority connectivity projects, including a particular focus in the Piscataquis and Skutik (or St. Croix) River watersheds. She has 14 years of Project Manager experience specific to aquatic/watershed restoration projects, including significant emphasis on in-stream survey and data collection, private landowner and community outreach, and grant writing. Recently, Eileen led the Maine Aquatic Connectivity Restoration Project in close partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and 18 additional federal, state, tribal, and nonprofit partners to complete nearly 70 stream restoration projects.

Christian Fox
Watershed Restoration Specialist, The Nature Conservancy
Christian leads TNC-Maine’s Watershed-scale Approach to Restoring Stream Systems (WATRSS) project in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service; collaborating with Federal, Tribal, State, municipal, non-profit, and private landowners to reconnect fragmented habitat for Maine’s native upland and sea-run fish species.  This work is a win-win for people and nature, supporting global biodiversity, infrastructure resilience, and sustainable forestry.  Additionally, Christian helped lead a Crossing Replacement Optimization Study and is carrying those findings forward to address several identified projects, and is working to enhance the engineering and construction capacity for fish-passage barrier removal.  Previously, Christian led outreach for TNC-Connecticut to develop the Long Island Sound Blue Plan, the nation’s first Marine Spatial Plan for a shared-management waterbody.