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Crossings, Culverts and Contacts.....Having Fun With Fish Passage
Midwest Region, July 23, 2010
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Fish passage surveys are a great way to get out of the office and I admit I really enjoy the opportunity to go.  Every day can be an adventure because in my experience no day is ever the same and one typically sees the strangest things or meets some very unique people on these outings.  

We had been cursed at, stared down and questioned to the nth degree already before meeting Carl on this particular outing.  He was riding his 4-wheeler across my bridge and seeing my FWS patch turned around asked the standard question "wach yall doin"?  

I quickly explained (in the 100 degree heat) what our mission was, then he pursued to introduce himself and his position as the county commissioner who was responsible for fixing and installing bridges.  Carl explained his personal efforts to do the right thing as he had 5 stream crossings he had to fix in the coming months due to rain events that had washed them away. 

This average looking farmer impressed me further by explaining that since he had taken office he had deduced that his road crews spent way too much time working on a bridge and did a poor job, so he had gone to contracting experts to do the bridges and leave the road crews to grading.  Realizing there was an opportunity before me and passifying my heat laden cooworker with a glance, I began lecturing him on the merits of good bridge design and fish passage. 

While scratching his head, Carl resolved that had never considered that fish couldn't get over the 4 foot dam/bridge we were standing on and summarized the thought perfectly in his statements "I never thought about it before, but I guess you always fish below the bridge where the fish are stacked up at" and "how come my boss doesn't know this stuff".  You got it Carl!

Usually one can expect to crawl through cobwebs, shuffle over snakes and come back with a good case of poison ivy on a stream survey, but that day we made a difference by a chance encounter with the county commissioner taking an evening ride on his 4-wheeler.  Fish passage work is a process of education, if we can stop the progression of new bad projects we can eventually catch up and fix the old ones. 

Contact Info: Wyatt Doyle, (573)876-1911 ex 111, wyatt_doyle@fws.gov



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