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Towns, ecologists seek climate-friendly culverts - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Towns, ecologists seek climate-friendly culverts

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AU SABLE FORKS, N.Y. (AP) - The humble highway culvert has become a focal point in efforts to help communities and wildlife adapt to climate change.

The critical role of these structures was demonstrated dramatically in a series of extreme weather events hitting the Northeast in recent years. In 2011, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee washed out roads across the mountains of New York and New England as culverts not designed for such enormous volumes of water were overwhelmed.

The rebuilding of storm-damaged culverts is giving ecologists a rare opportunity to help wildlife expand their range past the barriers imposed by poorly designed culverts.

The New York state Department of Transportation has incorporated into its project planning a simple computer tool developed by The Nature Conservancy to highlight areas where reconstruction will most benefit wildlife.

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