Let’s help our fish!

Hanging culverts can be barrier to fish. Photo courtesy of Alberta Wilderness Association.

Kate Lovsin,
Watershed Co-ordinator,
Lesser Slave Watershed Council.

Hanging culverts are an issue across the province.
Culverts are used as a tool to help water drain from one location to another, typically under a roadway. Roads fragment our landscape and block natural flow of water year-round.
A hanging culvert is any culvert that does not connect downstream water at the same level as the upstream side, leading to the water falling like a mini waterfall on one side. Culverts like this become a barrier to many living things, especially fish. Typically, hanging culverts develop over time due to erosion and changes in the surrounding land use.
Fish trying to use a hanging culvert as they pass through a stream or waterbody are met with challenges. If they can make it to a hanging culvert and make their way through, they are met with less-than-ideal conditions on the other end, where they must free fall from great distances in some cases to reach the stream. This stresses the fish, makes them more vulnerable to land predators and can lead to fish injury or death.
It is very important those responsible for these stream crossings actively manage the crossings to make sure that fish passage is not impacted. But with there being so many kinds of stream crossings across the province, it can be hard to manage which are doing well and which need to be remediated [fixed].
That is why we need the help of outdoor enthusiasts, anglers and anyone who might be using these stream crossings. The Government of Alberta has created an app to help keep tabs on the stream crossings across the province to help make sure those that need to be fixed get the attention that they
deserve. The app is called the Alberta Watercourse Crossing Inventory App [AbWCI] and it is free to download and use.
The idea is to have the people who use these crossings input pictures and information about the crossing. This is an attempt to help keep Wheels Out of Water, protect fish habitat, and hold the crossing owners accountable for their infrastructure.
If always out on the landscape, please consider contributing to the app. You can find a QR code to download it on the government’s website [https://www.alberta.ca/watercourse-crossing-program.aspx]
as well as more information about it and how the program works.
In the Lesser Slave Watershed, much work has been done to restore crossings in the Swan River sub-basin to protect water quality and Arctic Grayling habitat! More information to come about this work in the fall of 2022.
Let’s keep this momentum going across the whole watershed!

Share this post