New cost-share funding opportunities are available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for voluntary fish screening and passage projects associated with water diversions in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and western Montana.
What is the problem?
Water diversions and associated dams redirect and impound water from streams and rivers for crop irrigation, flood control, hydroelectric power, drinking water, and other beneficial purposes. Many farms in the Northwest are irrigated by water diverted from rivers and streams into irrigation canals. Water diversions can block normal migration of fish and diversion of fish into pumps, pipes, irrigation canals, and fields can greatly reduce their survival.
Why fish screening and passage projects?
Fish screening and fish passage enhancement provides a unique opportunity to increase survival of many native fish species including ESA-listed species in a relatively short period of time. Compared to most other available recovery methods; the risks posed by these activities are low, the assurance of success at increasing numbers of fish is high, and dislocation of existing social and economic activities is minor. Screening and passage improvements alone can't solve the fish problems of the Northwest but they can make a substantial contribution utilizing existing implementation mechanisms and methods which are well accepted by landowners and rural communities.
How does the FRIMA program help?
Fish screens placed at entrances to water diversions can prevent juvenile salmon from swimming into irrigation canals and decrease mortality for native fishes in the Northwest. Recent priority has often focused on ESA listed species. Other resident fish also need help to stay off the ESA. Until recently, screening to protect migratory resident fish species including trout, suckers, and minnows has received little attention. The Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Mitigation Program provides monies to benefit all native fish species and local water users. The Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Mitigation Act of 2000 (PL 106-502) created a new federal partnership fish screening and passage program in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and western Montana administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The U.S. Congress appropriated four million dollars in 2002 to match federal funds with local, state, and tribal water use programs to increase fish survival, reduce entrainment in water distribution systems, and increase access to productive fish habitats. To be eligible for funding consideration a fish screening or passage project must be associated with an irrigation or other water diversion and benefit fish species native to the project area.
What are some requirements to get restoration funding?
The project proposal may include modifications to the water diversion that are directly associated with screening or passage improvements. Project sponsors must identify at least 35% matching funds for the design and construction of an eligible project and must assume responsibility for operation and maintenance costs of the project. Matching funds may include in kind contributions such as easements, materials, equipment, or labor. This is a partnership program and all applications must include a local or regional government sponsor or co-applicant. Some special provisions apply for projects on federal lands and for proposals involving tribal lands and governments. This is also a voluntary program and must include the involvement and approval of the project operator and affected landowners. All projects must meet applicable state and federal regulatory requirements and must not involve requests for funding in lieu of already existing federal funding commitments.
How can my project be considered?
For more information or if you have a project that could benefit from this program please contact your local State, Tribal or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service FRIMA contact.
Application packets for each of the four eligible state geographic areas may be obtained in paper or electronic form from USFWS or from your state tribal fish and wildlife contact.
Last updated: December 5, 2012