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North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative

Collaboratively Increasing Resiliency and Improving Standards for Culverts and Road Stream Crossings

This project is developing a partner-driven, science-based approach for identifying and prioritizing culvert road stream crossings in the area impacted by Hurricane Sandy for increasing resilience to future floods while improving aquatic connectivity for fish passage. The resulting information and tools will be used to inform and improve decision making by towns, states and other key decision makers.

This project is being closely coordinated with a companion project funded by the North Atlantic LCC.

In 2011, intense and sustained rain from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee washed out roads throughout mountains of New York and New England as culverts running under those roads were not designed to handle such enormous volumes of water.  Additional flooding from Hurricane Sandy, which lashed the Northeast coast and adjacent inland areas in October 2012, caused additional damage. The widespread effects of these massive storms underscore the need for a regional science-based approach to prioritize and increase the resiliency of roads to floods.

Improving the resiliency of roads has multiple benefits beyond protecting human health, safety, and property. Upgrading, repairing or replacing culverts can also increase connectivity and movement of fish and wildlife. This addresses a critical problem because aquatic systems in the Northeast are extremely fragmented by undersized or damaged road culverts that are unfit to provide passage for fish, other aquatic organisms and wildlife. Beyond their in-stream benefits, fish-friendly culverts also help sustain nearby wetlands and floodplains while they nourish coastal beaches with sediment.

This project involves a number of tasks that will assist local, state, and federal partners in protecting roads and improving fish passage. It will develop a database and mapped locations and condition assessments of road stream crossings based on existing data and models, support additional surveys of road stream crossings, predict future storm discharge levels, assess risk and prioritize crossing improvements.  The resulting regionally-consistent data on stream crossing locations and future flood conditions will help towns, states and communities manage future intense storms and improve conditions for aquatic organisms.  The project will be facilitated by the North Atlantic LCC and the Fisheries Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and guided by partners and users from the conservation, transportation, and state and municipal planning sectors.

The project will take place over three years in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Partners include USFWS, University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and the U.S. Forest Service

LCC Staff Contact: Megan Tyrrell.


This project has led to the development of the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative, which has its own website, A number of tools and products are now available from the collaborative.

A series of webinars have been recorded that describe the background for the project, they are available here:

DateTopicPresentation document(s)Webinar recording
11/25/2014 Project overview and survey protocol
12/9/2014 Prioritization for field inventories
2/9/2015 Data collection and database
3/12/ 2015 Data QA/QC and training

Demonstration of
prioritization web map
and customizable ArcGIS
desktop tool


Aquatic organism passage scoring systems

Digital data collection systems


Two trainings for survey coordinators took place in April 2015 in Annapolis, MD and May 2015 in Albany, NY.

Other Documents:
Project overview:
Role of NAACC work group:
Role of Level 2 coordinators:
Field survey protocol metrics:

Department of Interior (Hurricane Sandy Mitigation Funds): $1,270,000



April 2015 Progress reportOctober 2015 Progress report; April 2016 Progress report 

The North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative has a website where you can find out more about the project, including a two page fact sheet.

You can view a web map with the results of the survey prioritization scheme here:

A short article by Bridget MacDonald, North Atlantic LCC communications coordinator, focusing on the field component of the project is available here.

A workshop for those interested in assessment of tidally influenced crossings was held in Portsmouth, NH September 2015. The workshop notes can be found here, along with an agenda, management objectives, and list of participants. Status updates from Nova Scotia, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and Washington state are available here.

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