Highways and bridges take us over scenic bays and rivers and across picturesque lakes and streams. Yet the wildlife and fish sometimes pay a price for our enjoyment of these natural waterways. Highway, bridge, and culvert construction can cause severe impacts to stream habitats - especially when the stream channel has to be relocated. Sediment from construction activities can cloud the waters of a stream, making it harder for fish to find food and occasionally covering fish eggs or mussel beds. De-stabilizing stream banks and removing streambank vegetation can destroy wildlife habitat and eliminate shade-cover for fish and aquatic insects (food for fish, birds, and bats). Improper culvert design can also affect how freely fish can move up and down the stream corridor to successfully carry out their life cycles.
The examples that follow highlight some simple methods state transportation agencies and Western Federal Lands are using to counter the effects of stream relocation and to correct barriers to fish passage. The examples also illustrate the easy things these organizations are doing just to enhance wildlife and fish habitats along waterways. The efforts they're making do more than help protect habitats - they help protect the entire food chain.