North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative
The North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC) is a network of individuals from universities, conservation organization, and state and federal natural resource and transportation departments focused on improving aquatic connectivity across a thirteen-state region, from Maine to West Virginia. The NAACC has developed common protocols for assessing road-stream crossings (culverts and bridges) and developed a regional database for this field data. The information collected will identify high priority bridges and culverts for upgrade and replacement. The NAACC will support planning and decision-making by providing information about where restoration projects are likely to bring the greatest improvements in aquatic connectivity.
Stay tuned as we update this site with new project information and documents over the next few months.
What is aquatic connectivity?
As long linear ecosystems, rivers and streams are particularly vulnerable to fragmentation. A number of human activities can disrupt the continuity of river and stream ecosystems. The most familiar human-caused barriers are dams. However, there is growing concern about the role of road crossings – and especially culverts – in altering habitats and disrupting river and stream continuity.
Road and rail systems can result in significant fragmentation of river and stream ecosystems. Road systems and river and stream networks frequently intersect, often with significant negative consequences for river and stream ecosystems.
Most of the culverts currently in place were designed with the principal objective of moving water across a road alignment. Little consideration was given to ecosystem processes such as the natural hydrology, sediment transport, fish and wildlife passage, or the movement of woody debris. It is not surprising then that many culverts significantly disrupt the movement of aquatic organisms.
Transportation networks and river systems share several things in common. Both are long, linear features of the landscape. Transporting materials (and organisms) is fundamental to how they function. Connectivity is key to the continued functioning of both systems. Ultimately, our goal should be to create a transportation infrastructure that does not fragment or undermine the essential ecological infrastructure of the land. The NAACC is an effort to inventory and more effectively address barriers to fish movement and river and stream continuity.