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No matter how clean and cold the water is for brook trout, a bountiful population can not occur without a significant amount of uninterrupted stream mileage to allow the fish to move throughtout the length of stream. Streams like Clark Brook, Oliverian Brook and Eastman Brook in western central New Hampshire have habitat characteristics of excellent coldwater fisheries. However, dams and poorly designed culverts cause range fragmentation in all three watersheds. TU has partnered with Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) to offset consequences of land use and human development. TU and CRWC are receiving grant funds from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Upper Connecticut Mitigation Enhancement Fund (MEF) to assess road-stream crossings and to identify and prioritize habitat restoration projects to provide more trout habitat. The information collected will not only help towns, landowners and the state conserve and strengthen native brook trout populations, but will also help towns plan safer road infrastructure for future floods.
In April and May of 2013, Trout Unlimited completed an inventory and assessment of all bridges and culverts in the Clark, Oliverian and Eastman watersheds. This data has been included in the New Hampshire Geological Survey culvert database. Upon completion of a final report, copies will be given to CRWC, MEF and the four New Hampshire towns in which the study took place: Warren, Haverhill, Piermont and Benton.
Assessment of human impact must always occur in order to ensure we are sustaining our natural resources, such as native brook trout. The data collected during this assessment coupled with future funding will be used to restore key crossings, creating more contiguous trout habitat while improving the overall health of the Connecticut River watershed. Not only will this help to fulfill TU’s mission, but also those of the CRWC and MEF.
Colin Lawson, New England Culvert Project Coordinator
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