We were thrilled to see that Maine voters passed Question 3 in this week’s election by a very comfortable margin (72 percent!). This newly-approved transportation bond includes $5 million for municipal culvert upgrades — which is excellent news for Maine’s wildlife.
Water resources are vital to our wildlife. Eighty-five percent of species either live in aquatic habitats throughout their lives or use these habitats throughout the year to find food, water, breed, and travel. Road crossings over streams can be barriers to these species and fragment their habitat, so the type of culverts we put in place makes a big difference.
Surveys of culverts around the state have found that nearly 90 percent of culverts pose a barrier for fish and wildlife at some part of the year or the animal’s life cycle. About 40 percent of these barriers are considered severe. Investing in improving our culverts preserves habitat connectivity and helps wildlife. It helps towns and citizens, too — wider culverts are better able to weather increasingly severe storm events, reducing the damage and hazards caused by road flooding.
This is what we do through our Stream Smart road crossing program and in collaboration with our excellent partner agencies and organizations. With the passage of this bond, Maine Audubon will work with our partners and with municipal officials and public works staff to upgrade culverts under roads that cross streams all across Maine.
It’s a great opportunity to improve stream passage and habitat connectivity for our wildlife!