State Departments of Transportation are becoming more involved in providing Aquatic Organism Passage (AOP) at road-stream crossings. Department of Transportation (DOT) emphasis on AOP has been driven largely in response to endangered species listings, other agencies' initiatives, and the desire to restore ecosystem connectivity to watercourses. UDOT is currently responsible for approximately 47,000 culverts, but AOP is currently addressed only on an as-needed basis. Currently UDOT has no prioritization or assessment strategy procedure for AOP at UDOT road-stream crossings. Historical fish passage strategies have focused on federally listed adult anadromous salmon and trout. These are generally very large fish whose life cycle includes both fresh and salt water environs. These species have adapted to the wetter conditions prevalent in their Pacific Northwest habitat. However, Utah fish species have adapted to the arid conditions of the Great Basin, are generally much smaller, and complete their life cycle entirely within fresh water. For UDOT these differences represent a potential fundamental divergence in the approaches used for providing fish passage in Utah vs. those historically used in the Pacific Northwest. The purpose of this research was to develop a method of prioritizing culverts statewide and to modify existing culvert assessment procedures for UDOT within a Great Basin/Utah regional context. Developed as part of the research are tools to prioritize and assess culverts. A GIS database was developed to store fish passage assessment data as well as provide functions for prioritizing culverts on the state and regional level. A fish passage assessment protocol for assessing UDOT culverts was developed based on existing fish passage assessments. The culvert assessment was tailored to meet developed UDOT fish passage strategies. A training manual was also created to aid technicians on performing the several physical culvert assessments developed. Additionally, a mark and recapture study at six UDOT culverts was performed to field verify the developed culvert assessment procedure. A step by step methodology was then created to establish critical progression for prioritizing and assessing culverts for fish passage utilizing project results.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





fish passage, culvert assessment, fish passage prioritization, culvert assessment prioritization