Around 66% of land in the Lake Champlain Basin is forested, roughly 80% of which is privately owned. Of this private, forested land, a variety of management types require private roads, including managed forest for timber, maple sugaring, and recreation, and for access to residential land. Therefore, there is a need for understanding where private road crossings in the basin are located, how private road management in the basin is impacting stream systems, and how landowner perspectives influence the management of these privately owned crossings. This presentation will discuss work we have done in two sub-watersheds of the Lake Champlain Basin (the Lamoille watershed in Vermont and the Ausable Watershed in NY) to identify the locations of these privately owned crossings and assess the impact of private road crossing management on stream habitat, specifically in the context of native species in conservation need (such as Brook Trout). More specifically, this presentation will give an overview of key areas we have explored in these two sub-watersheds, including: identification and mapping of parcels that are being actively managed and are co-occurring with brook trout habitat; identification of a protocol to detect road crossings on these parcels remotely; field assessments used for assessing private barriers at the sub-watershed scale; and the use of targeted mail surveys to assess factors influencing landowner decision-making around road crossing management. Additionally, we will discuss proposed work on a greater spatial scale (beginning in 2023) that intends to use field data to map connectivity and identify stream reaches most in need of remediation; use semi-structured interviews of landowners to illicit more detailed perspectives on what constitutes an effectively managed road crossing; and the development of outreach programs and guidance for planners on how to appropriately address these concerns. If piloted effectively, this mixed methods work could be expanded to fill private road crossing data gaps throughout the Lake Champlain basin, and in other watersheds of the Northeastern U.S. as well. The presentation will conclude with next steps for exploring similar topics.
Aquatic Organism Passage