Another Year, Another Culvert

Blythe Brown and Rich Phaneuf. Kayla Desroches/KMXT
Blythe Brown and Rich Phaneuf. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Local partners in Kodiak are pursuing the replacement of culverts along the road system. The culverts ensure the easy passage of salmon from stream to ocean to stream again, and their upkeep means the continued health of the salmon population.


Blythe Brown from the Kodiak Soil and Water Conservation District leads me down a snowy bank to see a culvert in Bells Flats that had been replaced in 2015.

“This was originally a three foot diameter steel culvert pipe that was too small for the amount of water that needed to come through here. It was in poor shape. I think this was even the one that had a hole in the top of the culvert and things like that, so it’s been replaced with a seven foot diameter.”

It’s a rigged pipe with long grass flowing in the water on either end.

Culverts are designed to mimic natural habitat, which means replanting vegetation and covering the bottom of the culvert with rocks.

Soon after visiting this site, we head over to a nearby creek where the planning for another culvert replacement is ongoing. There are two surveyors there gathering data to inform the design.

One of the culverts around Lake Orbin. Kayla Desroches/KMXT
One of the culverts around Lake Orbin. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Rich Phaneuf from Inter-Fluve Incorporated in Oregon stands behind a machine mounted on a tripod. He says it’s calibrating the distance between itself and a control point.

“We’re trying to survey to develop a topographic map and understand the hydraulics of this drainage, kind of the hydraulics that are going through the culvert to get an understanding of what size the culvert needs to be, what slope the culvert needs to be in order to accommodate fish passage and sediment load and flow.”

Since the creek is on borough land, Brown says the Kodiak Island Borough contributed funding, but it’s a group effort among many different partners.

She says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking at some other culverts on the Kodiak road system. They haven’t secured funding for those yet, but Brown says they’re doing the preliminary surveys and assessments for the design so that they can replace the culverts when the money comes through.

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