Pocketbook. Cat's paw. Pistol grip. Heelsplitter. Spectaclecase. They're freshwater musels, and freshwater mussels everywhere are declining. To help solve the problem, West Virginia Department of Transportation environmental specialists, each of whom has taken a 5-day stream-survey training course at the Department of Natural Resources, regularly look for unknown mussel populations in all of the State's wadable or snorkelable streams with more than 10 square miles of drainage area. Any mussels in harm's way are relocated to a suitable spot upstream. Freshwater-mussel surveys involve little extra effort, since the survey team is usually already onsite conducting other aquatic-resource studies. The logistics are simple: You need a keen eye, a little natural talent, and the willingness to spend 2-3 hours in each stream location. The survey "equipment" is an 18-inch-deep, glass-bottomed bucket which will hold mussels as small as a toenail or as large as a cantelope. Yearly statewide surveys at nearly every watershed and close to 100 bridge locations have added 12 new mussel streams to the State's database.
"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."