BEAT (Berkshire Environmental Action Team) is working to survey culverts and bridges around Berkshire County in an effort to make every major road repair an opportunity to improve ecosystem and habitat connectivity to help wildlife cross roads safely. The HVA (Housatonic Valley Assoc.) and now HooRWA will be working with them in this effort. MassDOT (Dept of Transportation) will provide a list of crossings in Berkshire County that they would like surveyed right away. Eventually the intent is to survey every stream crossing.
As roads are repaired, all crossings must be “suitably culverted, bridged, or otherwise designed to withstand and to prevent the restriction of high flows, and so as not to obstruct the movement of aquatic life indigenous to the waterbody” in order to receive a Category 1 (non-reporting) Army Corps of Engineers permit. What this jargon means – to get the easy permit, your crossing must allow highwater flows and aquatic wildlife to pass easily under the road. All the data will be put into the UMass Stream Continuity database that MassDOT will use as well.
BEAT believes that to meet the standard above, the crossing must meet the General or Optimum Crossing Standards of the Massachusetts River and Stream Crossing Standards. Additionally, they would like to see provisions made for terrestrial wildlife appropriate to the wildlife in the area, the size (volume of cars) of the road, and the topography. Often it appears that putting in a larger crossing just makes obvious sense to keep deer or other animals off the road.
BEAT will provide the initial training. The project is expected to last through 2010. Surveys would be at the convenience of volunteers. HooRWA anticipates having an intern again in the summer who could help.
Please contact HooRWA if you wish to find out more.