Culverts, Crossings, and Climate
In 2020, PRWC’s Hailey McKeever and Carol Haskins began training under Housatonic Valley Association to become lead observers for the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC) program managed through UMass Amherst. This year, the two are working towards becoming Level 1 Coordinators for the NAACC program. Following NAACC protocol and with oversight from a certified lead observer, the 2021 Youth Conservation Corps completed assessments for 80 culverts and bridges in the watershed. Crossing locations are identified using GIS and the crew extensively documented the physical characteristics of the crossing structure including size, shape, materials, and stream width and more. The data and site photos were then submitted to and reviewed by NAACC and made publicly available for viewing and download through their online GIS database.
The data collected are useful in climate resiliency and vulnerability planning for the watershed towns, which was recognized by Woodbury during a Community Resiliency Planning workshop they participated in a few years ago as part of their Sustainable CT certification. Each assessed crossing is given an aquatic life passability score to help identify and prioritize crossings in need of upgrades or replacement. PRWC has been in contact with Woodbury Public Works about crossings in need of near-term attention and how to use the data to prioritize long-term upgrades. PRWC will also be raising these assessments as a project opportunity in Southbury as part of the Southbury Strategic Planning process, Plan of Conservation and Development update, and Sustainable CT certification. PRWC plans to continue NAACC assessments over the next few field seasons as there are approximately 180 crossings in Woodbury, 80 crossings in Bethlehem, and 360 crossings in Southbury. On average, it takes about 2.5 hours to evaluate each crossing.