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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Wildlife Protection

Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

Featured Project

Bridge-Site Fish Can Rest Easy, Thanks to Pools Made by Rock Vanes

Photo showing rocks in stream that form W against the bridge central pier and stream banks

Until a few years ago at a bridge location on the Beaverdam Branch of the Juniata River in Blair County, Pennsylvania, repeated removal of stream sediment and debris by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) maintenance crews was routine. Each time, the activity disturbed aquatic species habitat at the site. In just four days and using only one piece of equipment, PennDOT fixed the problem. The solution: a "W" rock vane 20 meters upstream of the bridge and an inverted U-shaped "cross vane" 20 meters downstream. Like the vanes of a windmill, which divert air flow, the rock vanes divert water flow (and collected sediment) away from the stream bank and toward the center of the river. The devices effectively narrow the stream channel to replicate upstream and downstream natural channel widths, resulting in higher velocities which flush away any accumulated bedload material and minimize streambank erosion. And the rock vanes have created deep resting and hiding pools for the river's brown trout, rock bass, central stoneroller, creek chub, cutlips minnow, white sucker, and other aquatic species.

Tom Yocum, (814) 696-7224 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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