April 01, 2020

Improving Infrastructure for Wildlife

Karrigan Bork and Andrew L. Rypel

In Washington v. United States, 584 U.S. ___ (2018), the Supreme Court required Washington State to improve fish passage through almost 1,000 culverts originally built to allow streamflow under roads and highways. The case highlighted conflicts between wildlife needs and infrastructure development. Fish passage through outdated or ill-designed culverts is only a small facet of the larger problem of outdated wildlife infrastructure. Impinged migration corridors for ungulates, turtles, and other mobile taxa; levees disconnecting floodplains from rivers; poor water temperature controls on dams; and eroding ecological productivity accompanying aging of reservoirs exemplify the types of challenges to wildlife created by contemporary infrastructure.

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