The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposes to issue a permit for the incidental taking of a rare frog, which may result from the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge Entrance Road project.
Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the species’ overall population at risk.
The Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA-EFLHD), in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is proposing to rehabilitate Entrance Road (Route 10) and Marshland Road (Route 100) in Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge.
Proposed work on Entrance Road will involve overlaying the asphalt pavement section of the roadway, installing reinforced concrete pavement on the gravel portion and replacing two existing sets of corrugated metal pipe (CMP) culverts with 20-foot by 4-foot concrete open-bottom box culverts. Additionally, a channel will be dredged at the outlet of one of the two new box culverts.
Average flood events overtop Entrance Road and displace small amounts of aggregate surface material downstream, but more severe flood events have led to complete failure of the existing CMP culverts and roadway above. Input of the displaced aggregate surface material into downstream wetlands and ponds leads to increased turbidity and sedimentation downstream and can lead to degradation of wildlife and waterfowl habitat if left unabated.
The proposed project would eliminate these costly repairs and significant closure periods by armoring the roadway with concrete pavement and installing two large open-bottom box culverts in place of the existing corrugated metal pipe culverts to better handle flood waters and improve hydrologic connectivity across the roadway. Entrance Road would still get overtopped, but less frequently and with no significant cleanup or displacement of road surface aggregate into downstream wetlands and ponds.
The presence of the state endangered Blanchard’s cricket frog is confirmed in the vicinity of the project site. DNR staff determined that the proposed project may result in the incidental taking of some frogs.
The DNR concludes that the proposed project is not likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival or recovery of the species within the state, the whole plant-animal community of which it is a part of or the habitat that is critical to its existence.
Conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Permit. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the Blanchard’s cricket frog are available by visiting the DNR Incidental Take Public Notices webpage or upon request from DNR Conservation Biologist Stacy Rowe at 608-228-9796 or Stacy.Rowe@wisconsin.gov.
The public is encouraged to submit written comments regarding project-related impacts to the Blanchard’s cricket frog by Nov. 29, 2023 to:
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
c/o Stacy Rowe, DNR Conservation Biologist
2514 Morse St.
Janesville, WI 53545
Stacy.Rowe@wisconsin.gov or 608-228-9796