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Banking on Conservation: Missouri Ecological Services Biologist Receives Prestigious Award from Federal Highway Administration Banking on Conservation: Missouri Ecological Services Biologist Receives Prestigious Award from Federal Highway Administration
Midwest Region, May 12, 2011
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A low water crossing on the Little Niangua River before the stream mitigation bank project. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo by Rick Hansen)
A low water crossing on the Little Niangua River before the stream mitigation bank project. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo by Rick Hansen) - Photo Credit: n/a
A low water crossing on the Little Niangua River after the stream mitigation bank project. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo by Rick Hansen)
A low water crossing on the Little Niangua River after the stream mitigation bank project. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo by Rick Hansen) - Photo Credit: n/a

The Federal Highway Administration recently recognized Columbia Ecological Services biologist Rick Hansen with its Exceptional Environmental Stewardship Award for initiating innovative stream mitigation banks.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) proposed to construct a four-lane expressway in the Lake of the Ozarks region which required a Section 404 permit under the Clean Water Act. To mitigate for stream and wetland impacts, the MoDOT proposed a stream mitigation bank.

MoDOT had to factor in the scope of the work and mitigate for environmental impacts on wetlands and aquatic habitats. The Missouri Ecological Services and the Missouri Department of Conservation had voiced a need to replace low water crossing within the range of the federally threatened Niangua darter. Along with Camden County and the Missouri Division Federal Highway Administration, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the MoDOT decided to replace four low water crossings in the Little Niangua River, an excellent habitat for the Niangua darter. Due to the threatened status of the fish, it was a priority to provide long-lasting stream benefits.

Low water crossings are common in the Ozarks of southern Missouri. They limit the movement of aquatic organisms moving upstream because the crossings create barriers. By modifying the structures, Niangua darter populations are reconnecting, increasing genetic diversity of population growth.

The four low water crossings were replaced using pre-cast concrete spans to adjust with flow events and allow more natural sediment to flow through the structure. The replacement of the four low water crossings will open approximately 15 miles of the Little Niangua River to fish passage.

After 22 years at the Columbia, Missouri Ecological Services, Rick Hansen knows how important collaboration is to promoting conservation. Hansen represents the service to any federal agency and says the best part of his job is working towards a common goal. “I used to be very reactive, but I’m changing that into being proactive,” he said. “I like having a good working relationship with other agencies.”


Contact Info: Abigail Schmid, 573-234-2132 ext. 169, abigail_schmid@fws.gov



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