Conservation funding to help fish and Stone County bridge

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CRANE, Mo. – A unique fish population and a Stone County road in need of a better bridge have become entwined in a recently completed construction project that will benefit both.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Stone County officials have completed work on a bridge construction project that will improve conditions for local drivers and also provide better habitat for Crane Creek’s self-sustaining rainbow trout population. A clear-span bridge has been built where Roundhouse Road crosses Crane Creek on the Wire Road Conservation Area. This project, which replaced a bridge that was in need of significant repairs, was financed, in part, through the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund.

Crane Creek is one of the few streams in Missouri that features a self-sustaining rainbow trout population. (Most of the state’s trout areas receive stockings from hatcheries.) Because of this unique population, MDC has designated the upper eight miles of Crane Creek as a priority watershed and a Blue Ribbon Trout Area (the agency also has Red Ribbon and White Ribbon trout areas).

Because of the stream’s special status, the bridge project was eligible for financial assistance from the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund. This fund, which is administrated through the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, provides money to restore, enhance, and protect stream systems and associated habitats.

In the case of the Roundhouse Road Bridge, the clear-span bridge features a natural stream bottom that is replacing the box culvert which had a concrete bottom. The natural bottom will improve the passage of rainbow trout and other aquatic organisms. Drivers will also benefit because this bridge design allows for greater stream flow than the previous box culvert design and, thus, will reduce flooding problems.

The cost of the project, which began in mid-July and was completed earlier this month, was approximately $240,000. This project is the latest example of a long-standing partnership between MDC and Stone County. In 2006, MDC and the county worked together and used Stream Stewardship Trust Fund money to replace a bridge over Crane Creek at Doc Eaten Road.