Contact(s): Stacy Rowe, Conservation Biologist, 608-266-7012, firstname.lastname@example.org
February 25, 2020
MADISON, Wis. - The reconstruction of two railroad bridges in Walworth County may result in the "incidental taking" of two rare snake species under an authorization the Department of Natural Resources proposes to issue for the project. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.
The proposed replacement of the existing Wisconsin and Southern Railroad (WSOR) Bridge A-492 will consist of removing an 83-foot long open deck timber trestle bridge and replacing it with an 80-foot, 10-inch steel trestle. Rip-rap will be placed along the north bank at the bridge location by the WSOR. The overbank on both sides of the river will be lowered to improve the hydraulic flow through the bridge.
As part of the bridge removal, the project will also remove the abandoned siding bridge alongside Bridge A-492, which will improve the hydraulic flow and eliminate a current falling hazard. The piles in the abandoned siding bridge will also be removed to a depth of 1 foot below the mudline.
The proposed replacement of the existing Bridge A-494 will consist of replacing a 56-foot long ballast deck timber pile trestle bridge with four 95-by-67-inch CMAP culverts. Rip-rap will be placed at the outlet of the new culverts, and the overbank at the inlet of the culverts will be lowered to improve the hydraulic flow through the bridge.
Current land use within the project boundaries consists primarily of wetland areas. Construction is anticipated from May to September 2020.
The presence of the state endangered eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) and queensnake (Regina septemvittata) has been confirmed in the vicinity of the project site. DNR staff determined that the proposed project may result in the incidental taking of some snakes.
Department staff concluded that the proposed project would minimize the impacts to the species by adhering to conservation measures; is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of the species or the whole plant-animal community of which they are a part; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action.
The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the slender glass lizard are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Stacy Rowe (608-266-7012 or email@example.com).
The department is requesting comments from the public through March 26, 2020, regarding project-related impacts to the eastern massasauga or queensnake. Public comments should be sent to Stacy Rowe, DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or firstname.lastname@example.org.