Rivers and waterways provide a vast array of resources to communities, supplying us with water, power, and food. They are a source of recreational enjoyment and commerce, and are a prime gathering point for people in both urban and rural areas. With all the uses and demands on rivers and waterways, and resulting development of instream infrastructure, our rivers have become fragmented by millions of structures like dams, culverts, and levees. These instream barriers degrade aquatic habitat, create safety hazards, and lead to declines in fish populations.
The National Fish Passage Program works with local communities on a voluntary basis to restore rivers and conserve our nation’s aquatic resources by removing or bypassing barriers. Our projects benefit both fish and people. We work with communities to remove obsolete and dangerous dams, permanently eliminating public safety hazards and restoring river ecosystems. The program also works with transportation agencies and others to improve road stream crossings so that the streams can flow naturally beneath them. The resulting infrastructure is more resilient to flooding and benefits communities by saving money in long term repair and replacement costs. We collaborate with landowners to adapt water diversion systems so that the systems are efficient at retrieving and moving water as well as saving fish.
The program has benefited fish, wildlife, and people in numerous ways. Projects that restore fish passage develop community infrastructure resilience, rebuild fish populations and improve recreational and commercial fisheries, and restore the beauty of free flowing waters.
Removing barriers to reopen access to stream and wetland habitat, benefitting fish and people.
Additional fish passage resources and contact information for Service employees involved in the National Fish Passage Program.
Whether they travel long distances or stay closer to home, all fish need to move.
Fast facts about working with the National Fish Passage Program.