In honor of the last week’s Earth day and the upcoming Arbor Day, here are some ways KDOT works to protect the environment while building and maintaining the highways.
|One of many wetlands that KDOT worked to improve around the South Lawrence Trafficway.|
KDOT's Environmental Services Section reviews KDOT projects and KDOT sponsored projects across the state that have the potential to impact the environment. These impacts can affect human and natural environments, and many projects must be cleared and permitted on a local, state and federal level. Each of these reviews must evaluate potential impacts a project can have on noise, air quality, archeologic and historical resources, Native American lands, farmland, hazardous waste, storm-water erosion control, threatened and endangered species and impacts to wetlands and streams.
|An erosion control blanket is one way that KDOT works to protect the surrounding land so rain water won't wash the grass and mulch away.|
One example is a project in Cherokee County on K-7 to widen and raise the roadway plus add 10-foot shoulders for safety and flooding reasons. This project requires two channel changes to local streams, will fill some small wetland areas and possibly affect the habitat of a state-threatened chorus frog called the Spring Peeper.
|The Spring Peeper is a threatened chorus frog species and|
KDOT is working to create more habitat pools for this small
amphibian. Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
To offset these impacts, KDOT designed new stream channels using the principles of natural channel design. In addition to the new channel, a planting bench is being added along each streambank with Sandbar Willow and Pin Oak trees to be planted to add stability to the stream. Outside of the planting bench, a new riparian area will be planted with native trees such as Bur Oak and Shellbark Hickory plus native grasses making up a 50-foot buffer along each side of the new stream channel.
Inside each bend of the new stream channel, a new wetland area was designed where a wetland seed mix will be planted and bitternut hickory and Pin Oaks will be placed around the edges. These wetland areas, or ‘Peeper Pools.’ are to create habitat for the threatened Spring Peeper. In addition to these pools, stretches of the old stream channel and its riparian area that were not needed to be graded and filled will be preserved for additional habitat. To restore aquatic passage to upstream segments, a perched culvert will replaced with an embedded or ‘buried’ culvert.
All in all this project will create more than 3,300 feet of new stream and riparian area, build six various sized Peeper Pools and plant more than 5,400 trees.
|Riparian areas have been created and updated throughout the state, with more streams and areas to come.|