Monitoring Examples

This page collects examples of monitoring projects that have assessed effectiveness of fish passage improvements. If you have or know of any not listed here, please send info to

1. Keith Nislow and Ben Letcher used PIT tagging with mobile resighting to evaluate fish movement through a perched culvert that had been modified to improve brook trout passage. Downstream grade controls had been installed to correct the perch. Green Mountain NF, VT. Report dated 2006.

Fish passage assessment of a culvert improvement project on Brandon Brook, Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont, USA. Report prepared for Green Mountain NF.

2. Brian Bair and Greg Robertson (TEAMS) compared physical parameters in stream simulation culverts to reference reaches to assess how well the natural channel was simulated. They also did abundance/age distribution comparisons to indirectly evaluate fish movement through the culverts, and mark-recapture (fin clips) studies were done in 2009.

Pacific Northwest Region Stream Crossing Effectiveness Monitoring, Pilot Study. Report prepared for Pacific Northwest Region, August 2010.

3. Chuck Bassett and Rich Corner used pre-and post-replacement fish abundance surveys to evaluate connectivity where a perched culvert was replaced with an open-bottom arch on the Hiawatha NF. Before and after physical channel parameters were compared to show striking differences in channel morphology and substrate. Fish habitat and population data showed comparably striking changes after replacement.

Bassett, C. 2009. Changes in Fish Populations and Habitat Following Removal of a Perched, Undersized Culvert on Big Murphy Creek. Hiawatha National Forest, Schoolcraft County, Michigan.

Corner, R. 2009. CHANNEL FORM ASSEMENT FOLLOWING CULVERT REPLACEMENT: County Road 437 and Big Murphy Creek.

4. Jina Sagar compared movement of larval Coastal Giant Salamanders in natural reaches to reaches with bare and embedded culvert crossings using mark-recapture and abundance comparisons. She found less movement through crossings than natural reaches, and no movement through bare pipes. She connects natural stream substrates with both habitat use and movement opportunities for larval salamanders.

Jina P. Sagar, The Effect of Road Culverts on the Movement of Larval Coastal Giant Salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) in the Oregon Coast Range. Chapter 2 in Movement and Demography of Larval Coastal Giant Salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) in Streams with Culverts in the Oregon Coast Range. MS Thesis, Wildlife Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis OR

5. Rich Standage, Ouachita National Forest fisheries biologist, has been working for many years to determine the effects of low-water crossings on the highly diverse warm-water fish communities on the Forest. A review paper published in 2007 presents a history of the work and its results.

Standage, R.W. and C.J. Gagen (2007) A review of the influences of road crossings on warmwater fishses in Ouachita Mountain streams, Ouachita National Forest. Proceedings of the International Conference on the Environment and Transportation (ICOET) pp 180-186.

6. Beginning in 1999, Bob Barnard of the Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife evaluated 15 'stream simulation' culverts constructed after 1995. The monitoring goal was to see how their physical characteristics compared to natural channel reference reaches and whether correlations existed with factors believed to affect fish passage.

Barnard, Bob. 2003. Draft Evaluation of the Stream Simulation Culvert Design Method in Western Washington, a preliminary study. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia WA.

7. Shane Hendrickson, fisheries biologist on the Lolo NF, routinely monitors crossing replacements. One example is from Cottonwood Cr, where a perched culvert was replaced by a bridge in 2007. The downstream channel had incised, as can be seen in the longitudinal profile. To connect upstream to downstream, the channel under the bridge was designed steeper than the upstream channel, and rock weirs were placed as grade controls. In 2008, after a 10-year flood, the profile shows the downstream weir has been buried, as the channel adjusts. A standard set of photos is part of the routine monitoring procedure.

8. For his Master's degree, Drake Burford used several methods to determine culvert passability, and compared the results. Methods included modeling with FishXing, population abundance and size structure above and below culverts, and PIT tagging. Most of the culverts appeared to be partial barriers.

Burford, D.D. 2005. An assessment of culverts of fish passage barriers in a Montana drainage using a multi-tiered approach. MS Thesis, Fish and Wildlife Management, Montana State University, Bozeman.

9. Traci Sylte and Shane Hendrikson, on the Lolo NF, devised a basic monitoring procedure for restored xings. The monitoring goal is "to compare the physical characteristics of the adjoining upstream channel with characteristics within the crossing structure….to assess if stream simulation design components exist and are being maintained." The instructions and data form are here.

10. The Siuslaw NF monitors selected culvert replacements. Barbara Ellis-Sugai provided this example report.

Ellis-Sugai, B. 2006. Culvert monitoring, Lower (Middle) Stillwell Creek Culvert, Hebo Ranger District, Siuslaw National Forest. Unpublished report, Siuslaw NF, Corvallis OR.