Chatham works with Trout Unlimited on culvert repair

CHATHAM – Hudson River Watershed Alliance has awarded “the WaveMaker” to the Town of Chatham and Trout Unlimited. Supervisor Maria Lull told her fellow town board members about the award at their meeting on May 16, saying they have “prioritized all the major culverts in the town.”

A press release from the Hudson River Watershed Alliance said that Trout Unlimited and town worked collaboratively to identify road-stream crossings that are barriers to fish and wildlife and potential flooding hazards, resulting in a Road-Stream Crossing Management Plan in 2018. Chatham includes the Kinderhook Creek, Green Brook, Stony Kill, Valatie Kill, and Kline Kill.

The project team included Tracy Brown from National Trout Unlimited, Supervisor Lull, town Highway Superintendent Joe Rickert, and Vince Dubois, from the Trout Unlimited Chapter Columbia Greene. This partnership began when a town-owned railroad culvert on the Green Brook collapsed in 2016, blocking fish passage and flooding an upstream landowner’s property. Trout Unlimited received funding through the state’s DEC Water Quality Improvement Program to remove the collapsed culvert and restore the brook, connecting almost 3 miles of high-quality stream habitat.

“Working together on the management plan, Trout Unlimited and the town looked for overlapping priorities to identify sites that were ecologically important, yet also practical. They brought together municipal government, recreational users of the streams and private citizens. They gave full attention to each potential barrier that came up as a priority for ecology, flooding, or maintenance, fostering an environment for honest discussion. Implementing this plan will help continue to improve stream habitat and reduce flooding in Chatham,” says the press release.

Highway Superintendent Rickert told the board at the meeting that there are 272 culverts in the town. “It was a great learning experience,” he said of the planning process. He also said other towns in the area have seen what Chatham has been doing and are starting to work with Trout Unlimited.

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