Fish and Aquatic Conservation

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Partners Announce More than $34.5 Million for Fish Habitat Conservation in 2021

June 2021

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners are funding 85 fish habitat conservation projects in 34 states through the National Fish Habitat Partnership program. The Service is providing $4.3 million, and leveraging an additional $30.2 million through nongovernmental organizations, state resource agencies, and other partners. The projects empower locally led efforts to restore stream banks, remove barriers to fish passage, reduce erosion from farm and ranchlands, and conduct monitoring and assessments to identify conservation needs for fish and their habitats.

Explore the full list of 2021 National Fish Habitat Partnership funded projects.

The National Fish Habitat Partnership program is a comprehensive effort to treat root causes of fish habitat decline by working collaboratively through a network of 20 regional Fish Habitat Partnerships. These Partnerships leverage federal, state, tribal, and private resources to achieve the greatest impacts on conservation. Since its inception in 2006, the National Fish Habitat Partnership has funded over 1,100 conservation projects. Since 2017, the Service has provided over $18 million to conservation projects, while leveraging over $120 million in match, to improve fish habitat and recreational opportunities from Hawaii to Maine. In 2020, America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (ACE Act) codified the National Fish Habitat Partnership program into law, helping to ensure this collaborative, partnership-driven, conservation program will continue to protect, restore, and enhance the Nation’s fish habitat into the future.

Funded projects this year include:

Malama Waiaʻelepī Caring for the Hawaiian Anchialine Ponds of Waiaʻelepī, Hawaiʻi

This project on Hawaiʻi Islandʻs Kona coast will support community efforts to restore and protect the Waiaʻelepī anchialine pool system. Anchialine pools (wai ʻōpae) are isolated coastal pools with a subsurface connection to both freshwater and seawater and are some of Hawaiʻiʻs most threated aquatic ecosystems. A unique biological community of native shrimp and other invertebrates inhabit anchialine pools. These habitats are threatened by encroaching invasive vegetation, sea level rise, and introduction of non-native fish. The conservation of remaining anchialine pools is critical to the continued improvement of these habitats across the region.

A group of young people stand by a small pond looking into the water.
High school students from Kanu o ka ʻĀina New Century Public Charter School deploy a fish trap to remove invasive fish from Waiaʻelepī and attempt to catch an invasive prawn that is attracted to the action. Photo courtesy of Hui Aloha Kīholo.

Bayou Pointe-au-Chien Oyster Reef Project, Louisiana Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership

The project will construct a recycled oyster shell reef in collaboration with the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe using recycled oyster shells. The oyster reef will provide shoreline stabilization while creating vital fisheries and protecting the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe mound complex. The Bayou Pointe-au-Chien Oyster Reef Project will protect 400 feet of marsh shoreline and help to ensure the cultural heritage of the Pointe-au-Chien is protected for future generations.

A woman in a boat throws a net bag of oysters from to the riverbank.
The Pointe-au-Chien project uses recycled oyster shells to restore habitat and protect a cultural heritage. Photo courtesy of Restore Coastal Louisiana.

Armstrong Dam Removal, Monatiquot River, Massachusetts Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership

For over a century, the Monatiquot River has been largely impassable for river herring, an important recreational fishery and food source for larger sport fish. The Armstrong dam removal, led by the Town of Braintree, will permanently open 36 river miles for diadromous fish, and improve water quality for the aquatic community. The dam removal will also help reduce flooding during large rain events and is part of a larger strategy to restore the river. The Monatiquot River Restoration Project builds on years of previous feasibility and design work. Once the dam is removed, partners will continue to monitor fish presence and spawning success.

Two people stand on a river bank near rushing water that is spilling over a dam.
Workers surveying the Armstrong dam. Photo courtesy of the Town of Braintree.

Removing Salmon Barriers Through the Mat-Su Fish Passage Program Matanuska Susitna Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership

The rivers and lakes of Southcentral Alaska support some of the most productive salmon fisheries in the U.S., essential as both a local food source and healthy sportfishing economy. A major challenge to the productivity and health of these salmon populations are the many fish migration barriers including culverts that may alter the flow of water. Undersized culverts, for example, can increase stream velocity, which can be a barrier to smaller fish. This project on Cloudy Lake, installs a new embedded culvert with a roughened riffle that will reduce water velocity and provide resting areas for juvenile salmon. The project improves connectivity to .93 miles and 37 lake acres in the Big Lake drainage, identified in USFWS assessment as a key overwintering areas for juvenile coho salmon. The project also provides downstream passage by ensuring salmon smolt can emigrate during periods of low flow.

A small stream flows through a culvert surrounded by vegetation.
A culvert in the Matanuska Susitna Basin. Photo by USFWS.