Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge culvert project improves wildlife habitat and public safety

November 3, 2017

Contact(s):

Michelle Potter, Manager

Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex

631-286-0485 x 2112

michelle_potter@fws.gov


A new open-bottom arch culvert replaces a dual-pipe design that was perched (raised) above the river level. The new culvert will allow fish to pass more easily and will help reduce the risk of flooding during extreme weather events. Credit: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is close to completing an overhaul of a culvert on the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge that will open the Yaphank Creek and restore more natural conditions for fish passage.

The Service replaced a culvert underneath a refuge road and installed step pools in the creek to ensure passage. In addition, crews resurfaced the refuge road and will fit the road with guardrails later this fall to improve safety. The road is an important access point for refuge vehicles and is also opened for hunters during deer season.

“Even with all the benefits this project will bring to local wildlife, safety is always our first consideration,” said Michelle Potter, Refuge Manager for the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The culvert replacement is part of a larger restoration effort at Wertheim and the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex supported by federal funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery. The Service has invested more than $11 million in projects across Long Island to restore wetlands, marshes, and their adjoined river systems and make the coastline more habitable for wildlife and people alike.

The new open-bottom arch culvert replaces a dual-pipe design that was perched (raised) above the river level. A much wider and more natural design, the new culvert will allow fish to pass more easily and will help reduce the risk of flooding during extreme weather events.

The site also now includes a series of nature-like rock weirs and step pools, which help to gently grade the creek between the refuge road and the Long Island Railroad culvert upstream, while also creating resting pools for migrating fish. Both improvements will make passage an easier prospect for native species such as sea-run trout, American eel, and blueback herring.

“It is our hope that by completing this project we will allow fish to access coldwater habitat and spawning grounds in the creek, as well as improve their access to the Carmans River and make the whole system healthier and stronger,” said Potter.

The Wertheim refuge spans 2,550 acres on the south shore of Long Island and is bisected by the Carmans River, a New York state designated scenic river and one of the largest on the island. Wertheim hosts a variety of habitats, including oak-pine woodlands, grasslands, and fresh, brackish, and saltwater wetlands. These habitats attract and support many types of wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, osprey, muskrat, fox, turtles, frogs and fish. The refuge also serves as a haven for waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and songbirds.

Healthy rivers and river systems like at Wertheim are lifelines for communities in New York and throughout the nation, providing recreation, water quality, strong economies, and other benefits. By connecting and opening waterways to restore natural conditions, the Service and its partners are helping wildlife thrive and creating more robust communities for people.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.