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Protecting Communities - Saving Streams

Climate-Ready Culverts

Connectivity for Wildlife that Protects Local Infrastructure

In the summer of 2017, the Ausable River Association completed the replacement of a culvert over a Rocky Branch tributary on Nugent Road in the Town of Jay -- our fifth Climate-Ready Culvert. Because of the deteriorating and undersized pipes used to move the stream under it, Nugent Road flooded frequently in storms making it impassable for residents, emergency services, and for access to Town of Jay water supply infrastructure. The undersized pipes meant storm flows would back up at the inlet, causing flooding. At the outlet, the force of the concentrated water made the pipe act as a large fire hose, scouring the streambed below it and cutting into banks causing erosion. The pipes placement above the stream's surface cut off habitat access for aquatic wildlife trying to swim upstream to cooler waters. In a time of changing climate with increased storm frequency and strength, undersized culverts are liabilities for communities, for wildlife, and for stream health. Right-sizing using the Climate-Ready Culvert model, is an efficient and effective solution.

Culvert in early spring 2017.

Ausable River Association staff surveyed and designed the project, oversaw engineering of the culvert and road, obtained permits, and supervised removal and replacement. The existing undersized pipes were replaced with a 19.1-foot aluminum arch that spans both banks. The new structure easily manages 100-year flood flows with room to spare. The stream channel, that had not seen daylight for decades, was restored to its appropriate width, depth, slope, and roughness. The brook can now function fully, better manage sediment and debris, its waters visibly clearer. Amphibians and fish, especially native brook trout, immediately began reclaiming the entire reach of the stream. With a lifespan of over 70 years, this culvert provides long-term resilience with no projected maintenance.

Culvert after replacement in autumn of 2017.

The project was surveyed and designed by the Ausable River Association, engineered by North Woods Engineering of Saranac Lake, constructed by Zielinski's, Inc. of Jay with support from the Town of Jay and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Funding was provided by the FWS, the NYS Department of State, The Nature Conservancy-Adirondacks, and Patagonia through The Mountaineer.

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