Fish Passage Study

 

ODWC is cooperating with the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Weyerhaeuser, John Hancock and Georgia Pacific companies in researching bridge crossings in Southeast Oklahoma. The Three Rivers and Honobia Creek WMA’s and Ouachita National Forest contain an extensive road network to support the timber industry in the region. This road network includes thousands of bridges and many of them impact natural stream function, degrade stream habitat and present movement barriers to fish. While all of these impacts are of serious concern, the movement issue is of chief importance because fish may not be able to reach preferred habitat or successfully disperse and pass on important genetic information. Species at risk in the region include sportfish such as smallmouth bass and the threatened leopard darter.

Several bridge crossings in the region will either be removed or replaced in the near future because of severe wear from logging trucks that has deteriorated their structural condition. This study will look at the shape and function of the stream both before and after bridge removal to assess the impacts of bridges and their removal or replacement on stream morphology which is directly related to fish movement. This study will be beneficial in helping to develop better bridge designs that will have a lesser impact on stream systems and the fish communities that inhabit them. It may also encourage the removal of bridges that are not of high importance to timber companies.