Abstract: Session F  1:30 pm (BACK)
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The North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC)

Erik Martin
The Nature Conservancy
Brunswick, ME

Authors:  Erik Martin, Jed Wright, USFWS Gulf of Maine program

The fragmentation of aquatic habitats by roads and road-stream crossings, such as culverts, is a primary threat to aquatic species. These barriers limit the ability of fish, amphibians, and other wildlife to move freely throughout their habitats or adjust their distribution in response to climatic changes. Road-stream crossings also limit the ability of water to flow freely during extreme storm events. This often results in culvert failures and road washouts, as happened on a large scale during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. Strategic replacement or upgrade of road-stream crossings can both increase habitat connectivity and enhance resiliency of road infrastructure to storm damage.

With support from the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative and DOI Hurricane Sandy Mitigation funds, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, The Nature Conservancy, and expert partners throughout thirteen states have banded together to form the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC). The NAACC is a participatory network of practitioners united in their efforts to enhance aquatic connectivity. The NAACC is: 1) developing unified protocols for road-stream crossing assessments that can be used to identify bridges and culverts for upgrade or replacement, 2) launching an online assessment training program, 3) creating an online database to be a common repository for crossing assessment data, and 4) supporting efforts to conduct assessments in target areas throughout the region.  The project will support planning and decision-making by providing tools and information on where restoration projects are likely to have the most benefit on aquatic connectivity and to some degree, storm resiliency.