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Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

Featured Project

"False Attraction" Gets Beavers to Build Dams Away from Fish-Passage Culverts

Photo of worker standing next to mostly drained stream-bottom after installation of posts into bottom leaving aprox 1 foot protruding

At Milepost 18 along Highway 22 in Tillamook County, Oregon, beaver dams used to clog a 6-foot-diameter culvert, blocking fish passage and over-saturating the roadfill. Not anymore. Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) biologists enticed the beavers to build upstream of the culvert. To accomplish this feat, they slowly lowered the dam until the pool around it reached the historic creek elevation. Then they went 20-30 feet upstream, where they pounded wood stakes into the stream bed in a slightly upstream arch, making sure the stakes protruded no more than 8 inches above the water so the stream would flow normally and fish would not have to jump over the structure. Material from the old dam was placed on the upstream side of the stakes to "bait" the beavers into replacing their dams at the new location. The strategy worked. After a few "return visits" to the culvert, the beavers re-established dams upstream where the stakes had been placed. Even when these new dams were breached by severe storms, the beavers kept coming back to the same spot to build new ones. The technique was so successful ODOT used it at other State highway locations.

Devin Simmons, (971) 673-6021 or Devin.L.Simmons@state.or.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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