TU works with towns in NY to improve habitat, bolster flood resiliency 

A Trout Unlimited crew completes a culvert survey in New York.

By Tracy Brown 

Trout Unlimited uses many strategies to improve trout habitat. Around the country, Trout Unlimited is teaming up with local towns and partners to survey road stream crossings and identify priority culvert replacement projects that will benefit trout and improve flood resiliency. 

In New York, TU is engaged with several towns in the Hudson River Estuary.  Towns like Chatham, Hillsdale and Copake as well as Ancram are situated along the eastern border of NY and are home to high quality habitat that support eastern brook trout. The goal of these outreach efforts is to provide a road map for the Town to improve local road infrastructure while at the same time reducing stream habitat fragmentation. 

Inadequately constructed or designed culverts are a threat to stream ecosystem health, degrading water quality and causing a seasonal or year-round barrier to fish or wildlife. 

Together with our partners from HREP, New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) , Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene County, and the Housatonic Valley Association we are collecting the data, reviewing and prioritizing each crossing in partnership with the Towns and identifying the highest priority culvert replacements. 

“Our goal is to provide the Towns with the resources they need to improve and protect their road infrastructure from flooding,” explained Tracey Testo, CCE Natural Resources Program Coordinator. “The bonus is that by installing an appropriately sized and designed culvert we are also improving passage for many aquatic species that need to move freely through the stream to reproduce and survive.” 

Recently, TU received its second Local Stewarding Planning Grant through the   as part of the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program in order to add Taghkanic to the list of partner towns. 

The idea is to take the survey data and compile it into a format that can be used by town officials. 

According to Mari Lull, Town of Chatham Supervisor: “Trout Unlimited and its partners have recently completed a road stream crossing survey and prioritization project for our town working closely with our highway supervisor. The town now has a plan and strategy to replace the culvert infrastructure and will use the results for permitting and planning along our streams.” 

The final result of the exercise will be a comprehensive road stream crossing management plan for each town and healthy connected streams habitat for trout and other aquatic species. 

Funding for our work in the Town of Chatham, Hillsdale, Copake is provided through a partnership grant with the NEIWPCC

Tracy Brown is the Northeast Coldwater Habitat Program’s restoration manager in New York and Connecticut. 

By Mark Taylor. A native of rural southern Oregon, Mark Taylor has lived in Virginia since serving a stint as a ship-based naval officer in Norfolk. He joined the TU staff in 2014 after a 20-year run as a newspaper journalist, the final 16 as the outdoors editor of the Roanoke Times. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in Roanoke with his wife and, when they're home from college, his twin daughters.