Critical Linkages: Assessing Connectivity Restoration Potential For Culvert Replacement, Dam Removal And Construction Of Wildlife Passage Structures In Massachusetts
Scott D. Jackson, Bradley W. Compton, Kevin McGargial -
Organization: University of Massachusetts Amherst
The University of Massachusetts Amherst, working in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and state agencies, has integrated data related to landscape connectivity and human development and completed a comprehensive analysis of areas in Massachusetts where connections must be restored to support biodiversity and minimize vehicle-wildlife collisions. The Critical Linkages project has been developing spatially explicit tools, including maps and scenario-testing software, to mitigate impacts of roads on the environment and help inform the design of new roads. The project built on the existing Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System (CAPS), a computer model developed by UMass that incorporates biophysical and anthropogenic data to develop an index of ecological integrity. Within the framework of CAPS the connectedness and aquatic connectedness metrics were used to model various scenarios and
quantify the differences among them. Using this approach we conducted a comprehensive statewide assessment of restoration potential for 1) dam removals, 2) culvert replacements and 3) construction of wildlife passage structures on roads and highways. A baseline assessment of connectedness and aquatic connectedness provided a statewide base scenario for comparison of restoration options. Scenario-testing software was developed to efficiently assess restoration potential for large numbers of possible restoration projects and then applied statewide to identify road segments, road-stream crossings and dams that currently obstruct aquatic and terrestrial wildlife movement and that offer the greatest opportunity for restoration of landscape connectivity in Massachusetts.
Document Type: justification to mitigate