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Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

Featured Project

Old Guide Rail is "Guide Fence" for Traveling Salamanders

close-up of a salamander

Labrador Hollow in Onondaga County, New York, looks rather like a rain forest in Borneo. Its extensive wetlands and big tracts of forest are ideal habitat for spotted salamanders. But every year after the first warm spring rains, the brightly spotted little amphibians have to cross a busy highway--State Route 91--to get to breeding ponds and pools on the other side. The area is one of the hottest spots for salamander roadkill in central New York.

To help protect the salamanders, New York State Department of Transportation maintenance crews and volunteers from SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry installed a salamander-culvert fence using guide rail which had been hit and was sitting in a maintenance-yard scrap pile. The fence was staked down with old rebar and angled towards a pipe-culvert underneath the highway. Since the salamanders have to cross a ditch along the fence, there's a second roadside fence to guide any salamanders that go off course. Preliminary walking surveys show that salamanders as well as wood frogs and American toads are moving along the fence and through the culvert.

Timothy Baker, (315) 448-7366 or tbaker@dot.state.ny.us



Picture of various animals

Doing the right thing - simply

"Keeping it simple" is more than a concept. It's a commitment.

It means using simple solutions when simple solutions will work.

It involves going beyond "compliance" to identify easy ways of helping wildlife and fish.

It means doing the right thing just because it's the right thing to do and because one has an opportunity to do it.

"We can build bat roosts in pre-fab bridge concrete or extend the right-of-way fence to create elkproof fencing," says April Marchese, Director of FHWA's Office of Natural and Human Environment. "Simple measures like these link habitats, reduce roadkill, and save taxpayer dollars."

This website highlights more than 100 simple, successful projects from all 50 states and beyond. Each is "easy." Most are low- or no-cost. All benefit wildlife, fish, or their habitats.

Many projects were completed only once - to protect specific species in specific environmental conditions. Others have been repeated numerous times and have become "routine."

Some projects are undertaken regularly because research has proven them effective. Others are new innovations, "best practices," or state-of-the-art strategies.

Some projects - for example, modifying mowing cycles and installing oversized culverts in streams - are common to a large number of states. Others represent a simple solution to a site-specific environmental challenge.

We invite you to explore them all. We encourage you to find out for yourselves, through this website, how transportation professionals are working with others to do the right thing for wildlife and--wherever possible--to do it "simply."

Updated: 12/12/2012
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