Trout Scapes was recently hired by Steep Rock Association to remove an obsolete culvert across an abandoned road in their Steep Rock Preserve in Washington Depot, CT. The tributary to the Shepaug River is Curtis Brook, and its lower third of this stream had an intact, healthy population of native brook trout. Above the “perched” culvert were no fish of any kind. This culvert was perched over the stream by several feet, making upstream fish passage impossible and disconnecting trout from almost two-thirds of available habitat upstream.
This two day project was completed in late September, 2020, and brook trout have been seen using the new habitat. Time will tell if we got enough rains to bring the brookies back up above the culvert for the first time in at least 75 years, but they have been frequently seen in the lower most pool to date. The project consisted of a 35′ long, 60″ metal culvert being removed in two pieces from the stream, and construction of four plunge/step pools to allow brook trout to rest in deeper pools while shooting upstream as needed in higher water. We also needed to add stepping stones across the top above one pool as this is an active and popular hiking trail that crosses the stream at this location dating back to when the trail was an active road. Like so many of our remaining native brook trout streams, Curtis Brook is a small tributary in size and flow. This culvert removal should significantly help brook trout numbers in this Shepaug River tributary. Trout Scapes hopes to provide fish passage through another problem culvert on the tributary next to Curtis Brook, Kirby Brook with our clients at Steep Rock Association. That project is awaiting final grant funding for either 2021 or 2022.