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Thread: Killer Culverts must be stopped!!!

  1. #1
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    Default Killer Culverts must be stopped!!!

    Now that I have your attention......LORAX started a thread called gear vs habitat concerning a failed culvert on the Kenai river. As the discussion, which I suggest you take a look at, progressed there appeared to be a very strong interest in taking action to upgrade culverts that were on the verge of failing or blocked fish passage or in some other way degraded habitat or prevented salmon from reaching spawning areas.

    Kenai Watershed Forum, Kenai River Sportfishing and others have been involved in a project to replace these culverts and results have been slow at best. Robert Ruffner, the executive director of KWF, has a map of all the culverts on the Kenai Peninsula and rankings of which are the most in need of replacement. He will coordinate a meeting of all of us who are concerned in the next couple of weeks......he is in D.C. next week but has said he will get something set up as soon as he gets back.

    While there is a Kenai focus to this first meeting it is only because we are residents of this area. I know there is concern in other parts of the state and I would welcome involvement from people from all areas as working together we will be able to accomplish a lot more than we can individually.

    We can set up a conference call if anyone outside the Kenai is interested - just drop me a P.M. and I will talk to Robert to set one up.

  2. #2

    Default MAT-SU already has a program

    The Mat-SU Brough has been worh=king with a group to ID the Culverts that are problems up here. A number have already beeen replaced and a plans are to replace morer.

    BigFisherman

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    Is there a contact person or phone number we can use to contact them to help us get our program going??

  4. #4

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    Mat-Su Borough Frankie Barker fbarker@matsugov.us. She can put you on the right track. I will be gone for the next few day off to Seattle

    Bigfisherman

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Default From a guy who loves culverts...

    This, as well as LORAX's thread, is a pretty interesting topic.

    First off, someone mentioned a list of all the "bad" culverts on LORAX's thread. Take a look at the culvert database compiled by ADFG. As you will no doubt notice, there are a lot of "red" culverts, which have been identified as posing barriers to juvenile and/or adult fish passage.
    http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/SARR/...FP_mapping.cfm

    I'm a civil engineer in Anchorage, and spend the majority of my time working on water/drainage related projects - usually connected with roads and highways. I'm no old timer, but I've evaluated/designed a lot of culverts. Recently, I've been involved in quite a bit of fish passage work. It may not seem like anything's getting done, but there are efforts being made to improve some of these troubled spots. I just got done working on the design of a roadway project in Prince of Wales that involved "fixing" 14 fish passage culverts. And I'm flying to Cordova on Friday about a project that involves upgrades to improve 5 fish passage culverts.

    A few things to think about...

    Replacing problem culverts with "fish friendly" culverts costs a lot of money - more than I'd be willing to bet most people would guess initially.

    Take the culvert itself. For a successful fish passage, the culvert typically has to be bigger than the entire stream channel. Often a 60" is about the bare minimum. Some require much larger. Just a 60" metal culvert itself costs ~$500 a foot. So just to cross a small road, maybe 30 feet, the culvert is going to cost you $15K. A bigger highway, maybe $25K. And that price can really jump if you need bigger pipe. Still, that's not so bad, right? Then there's the cost of installing the culvert - the equipment, the labor, the road's going to be out of commission, so you have to deal with traffic control. And if the road's paved, then you have to pay to repave, restripe, etc. Even if local volunteer work can take care of a lot of this, there's more to consider.

    There's a substantial effort that goes into designing a culvert that will provide good fish passage. It's not just a matter of taking out one culvert and throwing in a bigger one. You need to have good information on the stream channel - depth, width, slope, composition. You need a good idea of high- and low-flows in the stream. You can easily end up with velocity barriers that are just as effective at stopping fish as a perched culvert - or a dam for that matter.

    In addition to providing good fish passage, the culvert also needs to be sized correctly for the big flows, whether it's from a 50-year storm or from breakup. A culvert doesn't have to be blocked with debris or poorly installed to fail. Simply being undersized is all it takes sometimes. If the culvert can't pass the big flows, you end up restricting the flow and backing up water upstream. Just the sucking effect through the culvert can cause vortexing that will float the culvert - pull it (and the road) right up out of the ground. It's pretty impressive.

    The best fish passage designs are "stream simulation" designs, where a replica of the natural stream channel, complete with rocks, logs, pools, channels, etc. is built right in the bottom of the culvert. This involves even more time, effort, and money. Having someone spend a week crouched over in a five foot culvert placing tons of rock isn't cheap. (Actually, the best fish passage designs are bridges that don't impact the stream at all, but the $$$ is often just too much to be practical).

    And then on top of materials, survey, design, and construction, you have permitting costs and construction windows around fish activity.

    There are a lot of factors involved. And keep in mind that most of the governmental (and even non-profit) agencies typically have to follow this design-bid-build process. It all takes time and money - and you can start to see how fixing some of the spots quickly becomes a six-figure commitment. As a result, the majority of problem culverts are being replaced in conjunction with roadway improvements. Economically, it's a lot better deal to upgrade the culverts when you've already committed millions to upgrading/expanding roads than to just go in and fix one culvert.

    I'm still pretty much a newcomer to AK, so I don't know all the ins and outs of the local organizations. But a truth across the board is it takes some public outcry and pressure to get anyone to commit that kind of money to fixing a culvert - especially when so many out there are uneducated on why it matters and when so many are watching out for "misuse" of funds.

    It's really only been recently (the past decade) that anyone's really begun noticing or caring about how culverts have impacted fish movement. The old mantra of just throwing in a culvert wherever the road crossed the water was used for many decades before that. As a result, there's a lot of work to be done.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

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    Member TYNMON's Avatar
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    Default

    It's really only been recently (the past decade) that anyone's really begun noticing or caring about how culverts have impacted fish movement. The old mantra of just throwing in a culvert wherever the road crossed the water was used for many decades before that. As a result, there's a lot of work to be done.
    They have been replacing culverts for 30 years in the NW knowing that they cause problems for fish passage... Most ppl don't relize that juvenile fish passage through a culvert is more important then adult passage...

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    wyo2ak - thanks for a very informative post. We know there will be a lot of money involved and the timing, to work with planned road upgrades makes a lot of sense. It is possible to come up with about $500K between a borough grant and matching funds for work on the Kenai Peninsula. Our concern here is to identify the culverts that are the most restrictive to fish passage, least likely to be replaced in the near future as part of regular work and affect the greatest amount of habitat. If we can fix 4 or 5 of them in the next couple of years that will be a good start. It will take a lot of effort on the part of all interested parties but I think we can make it happen. Please continue to chime in on these forums.....your insight is most welcome.

  8. #8
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default great post

    Great post on the cost of replacement. Here's a novel idea: quit putting in culverts cheaply only to replace them at great expense a few years down the line! The state continues to put in culverts that restrict fish passage and rechannel rivers, while at the same time pulling and replacing old culverts at great expense!

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