I'm not normally given to sensational titles, but I don't believe I'm exaggerating one bit on this one.
It all started yesterday afternoon when we were baking chocolate chip cookies. It turns out I was out of baking soda. I called one neighbor; not home. I called another, and they were home and had some baking soda I could use. They live on the road to the north, just east of the creek, less than a mile as the crow flies. As I was driving there, this is what I saw:
Six shiny new culverts, and a backhoe. Uh-oh.
The neighbor informed me that the highway department was planning to replace the culverts on Monday. He looked baffled when I said "They're not supposed to be doing that this time of year!"
Now, I'm not against road improvement projects when they are necessary, AS LONG AS the county takes proper steps to protect wildlife and water resources in the process. I don't want to stand in the way of someone just doing their job. BUT, OCTOBER IS THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME TO REPLACE CULVERTS ON A BROOK TROUT STREAM!!! It's their spawning time, and any digging in the stream bed WILL cause sediment to be washed downstream, destroying any eggs that have been laid in the round gravel bottom nests called redds. One culvert would be bad enough, but SIX of them, several in a small feeder tributary, will in effect destroy that area for spawning. The brook trout population in this part of the stream has at most two or three year classes; one missed year class could significantly reduce the population, if not wiping it out altogether. The culverts could also impact upstream areas; if they are not placed at the proper height, water could be impounded; brook trout do not thrive in stagnant water.
If that ain't enough, stream flows are very high after recent rains. I'd like to know how they plan to pull a culvert without washing out the entire road and having to haul in more fill. It would have been a perfect time to do this project earlier in the summer, when flows were low and trout weren't spawning.
I've left messages with the conservation officer, the area fisheries manager (my supervisor), and the area hydrologist. If all else fails...maybe a little activism, Monkey Wrench style???
I'm mad enough to do it, but I have so much at stake...