Fish need water: that’s a given. But habitat is more than water alone. Stream-dwelling fishes need connected habitats. Waters fragmented by large dams or small, poorly placed road culverts keep fish from accessing habitat. Fish need certain waters at particular times of the year, times of day, or times of their lives, so as to live out their lives as accustomed by nature.
Not all fish migrations are as storied as iconic Pacific salmon leaping into cascading falls, moving hundreds of miles to spawn and die. Diminutive darters, sunfishes or minnows in Midwest streams may need to migrate mere feet to find refuge through a warm low-water period. Trout in the West may need to find deep water to over-winter, or a place to spawn in the spring.
No matter the reason or the season of need, the National Fish Passage Program, a voluntary, non-regulatory initiative in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides funding and technical assistance to reconnect aquatic habitats.