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Environmental Science and Policy
Culverts installed around the world to accommodate increased urbanization and human intrusion into natural spaces pose significant risk to the resiliency of socio-ecological systems. This is because of weathering, age, and design flaws, including being undersized or made with improper materials. Culvert installation and replacement practices have been extremely human-centric thus far, and as more replacement projects are instituted, environmental factors need to be taken into account. The city of Northampton has plans to replace high priority culverts, however, they do not have comprehensive guidelines for a pre- and post-assessment of culverts that prioritizes their impacts on the surrounding ecology. The goal of this project is to create a more rigorous set of criteria and methodology for conducting pre- and post-assessment of culverts and identify a list of culverts in Northampton that are high priority for replacement or removal under these evaluative measures. In order to accomplish this, we created a Spatial Ecological Assessment. This method is broken into four stages: 1. preliminary research: literature review on wetlands and significant ecological factors, 2. intermediary analysis: creation of GIS raster and selection of culverts for in-person assessment, 3. culvert assessment: on-site evaluation of culverts using an existing scorecard, and 4. deliverables: our recommendations for the city of Northampton and the independent contractor they have hired. Our deliverables will include a ranked list of culverts that we believe should be prioritized in the removal/replacement process as well as a GIS map to assist in future site-selection. The eventual culvert replacement that will follow this work will have significant ecological, public health, and economic impacts. It will ensure a more resilient and sustainable future for Northampton and serve as a model for culvert replacement projects in other locations.
© 2022; Isa West, Clio Bate, and Rory Haff
West, Isa; Bate, Clio; and Haff, Rory, "The Ecological Factor: Culvert Assessment for Replacement or Removal in Northampton, MA" (2022). Capstone, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
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