Conservation and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems
National Fish Passage Program
Nationally, an estimated 2.5 million river obstructions fragment our waterways. These include culverts, dikes, water diversions, dams, railroad trestles and other artificial barriers built to impound or redirect water for flood control, production of electricity, water supply, and transportation. Many of these structures are aging and unsafe. All of these change the natural features of our rivers, degrading habitat and blocking the natural migration of fish to historic habitat used for reproduction and growth. As a result, some populations of native fish have been lost and others are on the brink of disappearing.
Service biologists from the Northeast are restoring rivers to a free-flowing healthy state that better supports native fishes, other aquatic species, birds and wildlife. Regional biologists and engineers are working together with local communities and organizations to reconnect rivers. Dams are removed and culverts replaced with fish-friendly passage structures like open-bottom arched culverts or bridges. This helps towns save money that they can ill afford to apply to the maintenance of an unsafe, obsolete, or abandoned dams and culverts. When dams are deemed by communities as too important to remove or breach, our engineers assist in designing fishways to pass fish above and below the dams. The conserved ecosystems that result help the wildlife adapt to both climate change and other unforeseen environmental concerns.
In 2010, the Northeast Region received $1.3M out of the National total of $10.8M for program implementation. About $249,000 were used for project coordination and engineering. The remaining funds fueled eleven on-the-ground projects in ten states plus the technical experts to do the work. Nationally, each dollar of fish passage funds averages a match of $3 in partner funding. And, each river mile restored to fish passage has an economic value to the community of over $500,000.
Partners on these non-regulatory projects include towns, non-profit conservation groups and watershed associations, States, other programs within the agency like Partners for Fish and Wildlife and National Wildlife Refuges, and other Federal agencies like the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
National Fish Passage Program: Creating Aquatic Possibilities - 2011 Annual Report and Future Outlook (2.2 mb .pdf)
To propose a project, or to find out if your project could qualify for funding through this Program, contact the Regional Fish Passage Program Coordinator:
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