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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Wildlife Protection

Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

Featured Project

Diverting Low-Water Flows to a Culvert Enables Fish Passage

photo of box culverts with ridge across 3 and 1/2 boxes to direct low water into the remaining 1/2 box

A large culvert in a small stream can be good news for water flow but bad news for fish movement. That was the case a few years ago at a stream culvert along State Route 53 in Pickens County, Georgia. When the culvert was extended to a four-barrelled structure to accommodate seasonal high flows, the improvement changed the width of the stream inside the culvert from 4 feet to 40 feet. During periods of low and normal water flow, the resulting water depth was predicted to be 1/2-inch or less--far too shallow for the stream's tiny, federally-listed as threatened, Cherokee darter. Even if the darters managed to swim through the culvert they would not get far because of a shallow silt-filled "lake" below. Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) biologists solved both problems by installing a vertical wall in the middle of one outside barrel. The construction also included a low sill across the inlet in front of the remaining 3-1/2 barrels which diverts water to the outside barrel during low-water flows. During higher flows, the water spills over into the entire culvert. Thanks to the partition and the sill, the Cherokee darters have the stream conditions they need to move freely and to travel to Long Swamp Creek and into smaller streams for spawning and rearing their young. The easy solutions saved time, too, allowing GDOT crews to complete willow staking, native-grass planting, and other on-site environmental tasks.

Wesley King, (706) 635-5551 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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