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Wildlife Protection

Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

Featured Project

"Beaver Deceivers" Hide Moving Water from Dam-Building Beavers

Photo of cage surrounding culvert outlet

When beavers build their dams in culverts, the choke-load of mud, leaves, and limbs often block fish passage or cause water backup onto roads. Not to worry in Virginia, where the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) uses a "beaver-deceiver" strategy to stop this destructive behavior while at the same time keeping the beavers content. VDOT's method capitalizes on beavers' natural urge to stop up free-flowing water. Here's how it works: First, a fence of cedar posts and wide mesh wiring is constructed in a perimeter around the culvert. Second, a large underwater pipe is extended from the mouth of the culvert to a depth of 20-30 feet within the fenced-off area, eliminating the sensation of water flowing into the pipe. Though beavers sometimes realize water is moving inside the fence, they cannot get to it. When they try to build a dam outside the fence, VDOT maintenance crews easily remove the debris. Undaunted, the industrious beavers usually remain in in the area, building lodges and cutting small trees for food.

Sande Snead, (804) 225-4491 or

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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