Every day we drive over culverts. There are thousands of them in this country, and they are one of the most significant impediments to fish passage, spawning, and survival. Badly constructed or poorly engineered, they pose a threat no less than a major dam, yet they are easily overlooked.
But the solution is dramatically simpler than removing a dam. Thousands of culverts around the country need to be removed or modified, but compared with removing a dam, the cost is minimal and the overall impact to many watersheds is greater. The lack of controversy associated with most culvert projects and their comparatively low cost, according to Trout Unlimited President and CEO Chris Wood, “make fixing a culvert so that fish can pass, one of the best investments in trout recovery.” The Orvis/TU Culvert Fund will go toward the engineering and removing of culverts. Each year TU will determine a list of watersheds that will most benefit from a concerted effort to replace culverts. Presently, there are projects that involve culvert improvement or removal in the Blackfoot drainage of Idaho, the Bear River drainage of Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho, and projects up and down the spine of the Sierra in California, not to mention dozens of potential projects in native brook trout habitat all along the Eastern Seaboard.
You can help repair and modify culverts across the country by giving to the Orvis/TU Culvert Fund. Orvis is donating $90,000 in matching funds so that every $100 you donate will become $200. It will offer the best dollar for dollar return for improving fish habitat and fishing access and opportunity. Send your check to The Orvis/TU Culvert Fund, c/o The Orvis Company, 178 Conservation Way, Sunderland, VT 05250 or donate online.