Aquatic Connectivity Restoration
Bridges, culverts and overpasses that were once installed for the sole purpose of allowing humans to maneuver across waterways are now being reassessed with the help of the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC) to allow for safe passage of aquatic animals and waterflow along vital streams and tributaries.
Essential for the migration and healthy populations of aquatic animals and plants, unimpeded waterways allow them to reach spawning and nesting grounds, food sources, and habitable ecosystems.
North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative
This past summer our Director of Stewardship, Paul Porter, completed training by the NAACC to learn how to evaluate manmade crossings and determine their effectiveness below the water level.
He joins a voluntary effort to catalog existing crossings into a database covering a thirteen-state region from Maine to West Virginia. Any trouble spots in the community can then be prioritized, redesigned, and repaired based on need and funding.
Improperly installed structures can have an immediate impact on aquatic life and their ability to travel to spawning areas. Examples of impediments to water flow and animal movement include culverts that are placed too high in the water and culverts that are too narrow, which are easily blocked by debris.
Pleasant Valley Preserve
Pleasant Valley Preserve underwent a big transformation in the summer of 2022 with the help of Onondaga Environmental Institute and the Onondaga Lake Recovery Fund.
A large bridge replaced the gravel walkway and culvert system that traversed a portion of the west branch of Onondaga Creek, which was consistently plugged by beaver debris.
The original culvert was a pinch point for waterflow, flooding the walkway completely, and at times blocking animal passage.
The new bridge has enabled a healthy flow of water through Onondaga Creek, and unimpeded movement of aquatic life, which can be easily observed from the bridge overlook. It is also a beautiful improvement to the preserve and a focal point for visitors.
Three Falls Woods
Three Falls Woods had a dramatic facelift and trail extension with the installation of a bridge spanning the top of the falls The bridge was designed by Ramsgard Architectural Design, built by SUNY ESF engineering students, and installed by staff and volunteers. This structure will keep visitors above the waterline, mitigating damage to the ecology of the falls, and allowing for a beautiful view.
High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary
This summer we installed a small bridge at High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary, traversing a stream that leads to Skaneateles Lake. Continued foot traffic could adversely affect small animals such as salamanders. Fortunately, we were able to repurpose a bridge from Camillus Valley for the project. Recent flooding in the valley completely redirected a watercourse, making the bridge unnecessary for that site.