Newsroom Midwest Region

July 27, 2010



Ashley Spratt 612-713-5314

Larry Dean, 612-713-5312

Crews Break Ground On Missouri ARRA Project Benefitting The Federally Threatened Niangua Darter and Travellers Alike

A rare fish in need of better habitat and a Dallas County road in need of a better bridge have become entwined in a unique project that will benefit both.

On Tuesday, July 27, Dallas County officials joined the Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel to view the start of a bridge construction project that will improve conditions for local drivers and the federally threatened and state endangered Niangua darter.  A low-water bridge will be built where Benton Branch Road crosses the Niangua River, a site known locally as Williams Ford.

This crossing lies squarely in the habitat of the Niangua darter (Etheostoma nianguae). The only place in the world this small fish (between two and four inches long) resides is in south-central Missouri in a few tributaries of the Osage River.  One of the places the Niangua darter has been found is in Dallas County in its namesake river.  One of the fish’s key habitat needs is relatively unrestricted stream flow.

This is where the new bridge at Williams Ford will provide habitat help.  Currently, the Niangua River is spanned at this site with a type of crossing known as a vented ford crossing.  This type of crossing forces the stream into narrow vent-like opening and creates a flow pattern that is problematic for Niangua darters and a number of other aquatic organisms.  It blocks the upstream passage of fish and other aquatic animals.  The new low-water bridge will resolve these problems.

Besides making things better for Niangua darters, the new bridge will provide a much-needed improvement for drivers.  A problem associated with vented ford crossings is road flooding.  Because stream flow under the crossing is limited to what the “vents” can accommodate, fast-rising water can easily override what the vents can handle and flood the road, creating a situation where travel is either impossible or dangerous.

The project’s cost is estimated at $249,000.  It is being built, in large part, with funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.  The project started with preliminary work in June and is scheduled for a Dec. 1, 2010 completion date.



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