Fish and Aquatic Conservation

In The News

photo of dam removal
Marion Ice Plant Dam Removal, Middle Fork Holston River, VA. Photo credit: Callie McMunigal/USFWS

Service, Partners to Provide More Than $18 Million for Fish Habitat Conservation Projects in 34 States

October 2019

Through the National Fish Habitat Partnership program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners are providing more than $18 million to support 83 fish habitat conservation projects in 34 states. The Service is providing $4 million this year, with nongovernmental organizations, state resource agencies, and other partners contributing an additional $14 million.

Service biologists and partners will work on funded projects in priority areas to restore stream banks, remove man-made barriers to fish passage, reduce erosion from farm and ranchlands, and conduct studies to identify conservation needs for fish and their habitats. Anticipated benefits include more robust fish populations, better fishing and healthier waterways. For example, projects this year include a dam removal in Indiana to benefit smallmouth bass, the addition of large wood material to a stream in Maine to benefit wild brook trout, a dam removal in California to benefit endangered salmon, and restoration of degraded estuary habitat to benefit native fish in Hawaii.

News Release

View the full list of projects

More information about the National Fish Habitat Partnership

photo of angler holding a Lahontan cutthroat trout
An angler holds a freshly-caught Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout at Pyramid Lake. Photo credit: Greg Ritland for USFWS  

5,000 Lahontan cuthroat throat to be placed in Lake Tahoe for first time; Public invited

October 2019

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - For the first time ever, the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery will release 5,000 large Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout into their home waters of Lake Tahoe.

Over three days, the 12"-14" sized trout will be placed in the water, and the public is invited to two of those historic, interpretive stocking events during the Fall Fish Festival at Taylor Creek.

On both Saturday, October 5 and Sunday, October 6 at noon, the public can watch the stocking. The event will start at the Taylor Creek Visitor's Center with an interpretive talk, followed by a short walk to the stocking site.

For more information on the Lahontan cutthroat trout and efforts to bring its population back, visit

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photo of Bio Science tech holding a Chinook salmon
Photo: Bio Science Tech with Entiat chinook. Credit: Julia Pinnix/USFWS  

Up to Six Ways to Say ‘Fish On!’ for Entiat National Fish Hatchery Summer Chinook

Sean Connolly, Columbia Pacific Northwest FAC Program and Julia Pinnix, Leavenworth Fisheries Complex, Washington

Record numbers of Entiat National Fish Hatchery, WA, summer Chinook salmon returned again in, creating another fish bonanza for Central Washington anglers and tribes.

Similar to 2018, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s harvest limit for hatchery Chinook was six fish per day. But this season the State also increased the geographic area where they could be caught.

With on-hatchery salmon fishing also officially opening this summer, the public had even more opportunities to catch a salmon known colloquially as the ‘June Hog.’  

Entiat NFH salmon made up 14 percent of the region’s summer Chinook run, notable considering the hatchery releases 400,000 smolts annually and was staffed by two people in 2016 when fish were released.

The hatchery staff’s hard work translated into plenty of Chinook for all. In addition to thousands of fish caught in commercial, tribal, and recreational fisheries, the hatchery also surplussed nearly 1,900 adult fish to area tribes for subsistence and ceremonial use.

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photo of students training in the Young Environmental Leaders Program
Training students in YELP how to access fish passage. Credit/M.Rosten, Buff-Niagara Waterkeeper  

Young Environmental Leaders Program (YELP) Learn How to Assess Culverts

Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office

Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) staff train future fish passage engineers and aquatic biologists. 

Students in the Buffalo-Niagara Waterkeeper’s Young Environmental Leaders Program (YELP) recently learned how to assess fish passage at culverts with varying degrees of passage, and how to develop solutions for mitigating restrictions to fish passage. In addition to this hands-on training, students learned about the mission of and work conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Learn more about the Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office

photo of staff working to clear passage for fish
Photo: Putting the dirt to work! Katy Pfannenstein (left), Robes Parrish (center), and Kristen Kirkby (right, CCFEG Project Manager) on the first day of construction in the channel.

Let the Dirt Fly! Making Muddy Waters in the Methow River Valley Clear Passage for Fish

By: Julia Pinnix, visitor services manager, Leavenworth Fisheries Complex

My friend and colleague Katy Pfannenstein sent me a photo July 11 of her first day working at Hancock Springs. She and her co-worker, Robes Parrish, are liberally spattered with mud. “We have A LOT of mud out here!” she wrote, and I could hear her laughter bubbling in my imagination.

Katy is a member of the Habitat Restoration team at Mid-Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (MCFWCO). She’s diving in this summer, more or less literally, on a project that started back in 2001, known as Hancock Springs.

The spring in question was part of a dairy farm in the Methow River Valley in the early 1900s. The farmer built a structure over upwelling water to make a place for storing milk and keeping it cool. Dairy cattle enjoyed the spring water as well, trampling through the stream channel, which wound some 4,000 feet to empty into the Methow. They ate the vegetation on the banks, and their heavy hooves widened the unprotected stream to as much as 100 feet, turning it to a slow backwater that looked more like a pond than a creek.

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photo of  an archer taking aim at a buck target
Archer taking aim at a buck target at the new 3D archery range. Credit: USFWS 

3D Archery Trail Expands Public Recreation on Federal Lands

By Brandon Keesler, Iron River NFH

At Iron River National Fish Hatchery (NFH), WI, the main focus is restoration of lake trout and coaster brook
trout in the upper Great Lakes where 1.5 million yearling fish are stocked annually for this purpose. The hatchery sits on 1,200 acres of land and our secondary focus is to provide quality outreach activities and programs based heavily in outdoor public recreation. Visitors can find snowshoes in our lobby for use on our extensive 3.5 mile trail system free of charge and can access this trail 365 days a year for other uses such as cross country skiing, hiking, hunting and birding. We are always looking for ways to expand upon our program and it is with great excitement that we are able to announce that our 3D archery course is completed and open for business! Visitors can access the nearly mile long trail from the hatchery parking lot and will be met with sixteen shooting lanes comprised of an assortment of 3D animals and targets at varying distances. The trail is free to the public and open May through November. All ages and skill levels are welcome to come and enjoy this wonderful new addition to our grounds. Outdoor access is a priority at Iron River NFH, come check out our diverse public use opportunities!

Read more about the hatchery

photo of kids in the water fishing
Kids with the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club cross Ship Creek with Kris Pacheco (center) and Kate Martin (right) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (Casey Grove/Alaska Public Media photo) 

With hopes to connect Anchorage kids to wildlife, program teaches safe angling


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Alaska Office of Boating Safety have been teaming up this summer with local Boys and Girls Clubs to get more Anchorage kids fishing. The goal is to teach them to do it safely, while having a good time, and it all starts with some instruction and fun at the pool.

On one recent summer day, kids are at stations with instructors in every corner of the West High School pool. At one, they put on life jackets and waders, to see what happens when they fill with water, and then there’s a friendly race.

“Without these life jackets, that would’ve been almost impossible for you guys to do, OK?” said their instructor, Kris Pacheco, an undergrad from Western New Mexico State interning with the Fish and Wildlife Service and developing the wader-safety lessons.

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photo of people standing in line at a fishing pop-up stand
An ‘Off the Hook’ pop-up stand in Hudson River Park, New York, June 2019. Photo: RBFF

Does fishing have a future?


As young people turn away from fishing, companies, schools and groups like the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation are looking for ways to “reel them back in.”

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted the challenges in the recreational fishing industry, discussing the sport’s lack of diversity and problems with retention.

Children from ages 13 to 17 fish less than those aged 6 to 12, the article points out, adding that the trend is contributing to “a drastic decline in the popularity of fishing.”

The number of anglers in the U.S. increased from 33.1 million in 2011 to 35.8 million in 2016, but the number of total days they fished dropped dramatically, from 553.8 million to 459.3 million — a 17 percent decrease, according to the newspaper, citing data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“I go to all the industry meetings,” RBFF CEO Frank Peterson told the newspaper. “I’m a 67-year-old pale white male. I look out at the audience, and they all look like me. We need to attract more diverse audiences and women.”

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Dworshak Fish Hatchery's Chinook spawning plays key role in managing salmon population

Stephen Pimpo Jr./KLEW | Tuesday, August 20th 2019

OROFINO, ID (KLEW) — Spawning season for Chinook Salmon is underway at the Dworshak National Fish Hatchery in Orofino.

The hatchery plays a vital role in salmon recovery, especially after the low salmon run in 2019.

"People really do depend on the Chinook Salmon,” says Dworshak biologist Lautiss Shebala. “It's something everyone looks forward to."

The Dworshak hatchery releases more than 12 million fish each year.

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photo of Sam Stukel standing on top of a mountain

FWS Behind the Lens: Sam Stukel


The small town of Gregory, South Dakota is where Sam Stukel grew up crazy about hunting and fishing on the banks of the Missouri River. Especially as a teenager, he was obsessed with fishing and wanted to find a way to work in a related field. After his first year of college, he began studying wildlife and fisheries and never looked back.

Sam earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Biology at Mount Marty College, and later received a Master’s of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries from South Dakota State University. He worked as a fisheries biologist for South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks for 12 years prior to joining the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). Sam has worked at Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery as a biologist for 4 years now and says, “it’s honestly been amazing working for the Service.”

Sam’s love of photography goes back to his childhood. He remembers being 10 years old and buying disposable cameras and filling up their film with images. He kept those cameras handy in his tackle box or backpack, ready to capture the scenes as he explored the outdoors. He long ago graduated from disposables and now shoots with SLR and mirrorless cameras. His work has been published in the likes of Bugle, Pheasants Forever, and South Dakota magazines.

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a photo of a student working on their casting skills
Students honed their skills at the USFWS casting station. Photo credit: Molly Good/USFWS  

Access for All


There was no shortage of smiles, laughs, hoots, hollers and high fives when the Shelton School District special needs students visited Mason Lake in Washington this past June.  It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the kids or the partners and volunteers! Led by the South Sound Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers, this inspiring event was supported by many partners and sponsors, including the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, who provided the trout and staff.  

The USFWS supplemented the kids fishing with a casting skills learning station.  You would think the plastic fish targets, or “Backyard Bass”, were the real thing based on the intensity and reactions from the participants.  According to the chaperones, some of these enthusiastic students even came out of their shells to participate. What better way to celebrate National Boating and Fishing week than to provide fishing access and opportunities for all. 

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a photo of fearnow fish pail
Curator’s Corner: Fearnow Pail, Painted Desk, Hatchery DIY, Curio No-no

Fish in a Pail

JULY 29, 2019

The Fearnow pail revolutionized the transportation of live fish when it was introduced by E.C. Fearnow in 1922. Milk cans had been used previously for moving fish, and the lighter Fearnows could carry twice as many fish as milk cans and took up half the space. The simple design of a recessed lid with holes in it aerated the water in the pail and served as an ice-holder that cooled the water. Fearnow pails were used by national fish hatcheries nationwide. The name of a hatchery and a unique identification number were stamped or painted on the side of pails, as seen on this pail from Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery in Louisiana. Hatcheries would load Fearnow pails brimming full of live fish onto fish rail cars and once the fish were stocked from the rail cars, the empty Fearnow pails were returned to their respective hatcheries to start the process all over again.

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a photo of Devils Hole pupfish
The Devils Hole pupfish were rattled by twin earthquakes near Ridgecrest.(Olin Feurbacher)

The rarest fish on Earth rode out 10-foot waves when Ridgecrest earthquake hit

JULY 25, 2019

The rarest fish on Earth swam for their lives when a powerful earthquake rattled Ridgecrest earlier this month.

The magnitude 7.1 quake that split open the floor of the Mojave Desert on July 5 shook up life far beyond its epicenter. In Death Valley National Park — some 70 miles away from where the earthquake was centered — 10-foot waves erupted inside Devils Hole, a 10-foot-wide and 25-foot-long pool that is the sole home to the endangered Devils Hole pupfish.

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a photo of Pacific lamprey
The Zoo's Pacific Lamprey share the 500 gallon exhibit tank with other species including Chinook salmon and Warner sucker. Credit: Oregon Zoo.

New Oregon Zoo Exhibit Showcases Pacific Lamprey Conservation

JULY 15, 2019

The Oregon Zoo welcomed five new special guests on July 11, 2019, when Pacific Lamprey debuted as the centerpiece of an innovative new educational exhibit. These ancient fish are at the heart of a multi-year collaborative effort between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service), the Zoo, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), and numerous Pacific Northwest tribes to bring Pacific Lamprey and their stories to the Zoo’s 1.7 million annual visitors.

A celebratory event to welcome the lamprey to their new home was attended by leadership and key staff from the Zoo, the Service and CRITFC, which represents the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indians, the Yakama Nation, and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs. Speeches by Don Moore, Director of the Oregon Zoo, and Roy Elicker, Assistant Regional Director of the Service’s Pacific Region Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program, were followed by a speech and ceremonial blessing by Emerson Squimphen, a Warm Springs tribal elder.

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a photo of Deputy Assistant Secretary holding a bull snake
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Aurelia Skipwith holds a bull snake during a field visit with staff from Fort McCoy and U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to learn more about conservation work on military lands. Photo by Larry Dean/USFWS.

Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy honored with military conservation partner award

JULY 15, 2019

On July 11, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Aurelia Skipwith presented the Military Conservation Partnership Award to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin for their excellence in habitat restoration and wildlife management. The first Midwest Region installation to receive the award, Fort McCoy recently completed 107 high priority conservation projects, exceeding a 98% completion rate. 

In her remarks Skipwith thanked Garrison Commander Colonel Hui Chae Kim and the Fort McCoy Natural Resource Branch, which fosters the wise stewardship of natural and cultural resources to support and sustain a realistic military training environment, biological diversity, the integrity of sensitive or unique sites and commercial and recreational opportunities.

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a photo of the badge once worn by a US Bureau of Fisheries rail car messenger
Badge once worn ca.1905 by a US Bureau of Fisheries fish rail car messenger who tended fish carried by railroad. The Bureau became the USFWS in 1940. Photo/USFWS

A Look Inside the National Fish Hatchery and Archives

JULY 15, 2019

Channeling William Faulkner: “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” 

The past is present here at D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives in Spearfish, South Dakota. The facility is dedicated to preserving images, documents and objects related to fisheries conservation. The archive is located at one of the oldest operating hatcheries in the U.S., which still produces trout.

Barton Warren Evermann, Chief of Scientific Inquiry of the U.S. Fish Commission (the forerunner of today’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service created nearly 150 years ago in 1871) came to the Black Hills in the early 1890s to assess the area’s fisheries. 

On what now seems like a pittance, Congress granted Evermann in August 1892, “for investigation and report, respecting the advisability of establishing fish-hatching stations at suitable points in the States of South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska, $1,000, or as much thereof as may be necessary.” 

We don’t have an accounting of what was spent, but he noted what streams he seined, the fishes he found, and with whom he traveled. 

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a young boy holding fish eggs
Leland Banish, 3, son of Service fish biologist Nolan Banish helps deliver eyed trout eggs to a local Klamath Falls school for their Trout in the Classroom project. Credit: Akimi King/USFWS

We Thrive With a Little Help From Our Friends


A group of students peered through the cold glass of the small aquarium at 100 pea-sized fish eggs rolling gently on the bottom of the tank. The unblinking black eyes of the orange orbs inside appeared to stare back.

The eggs were delivered as part of the popular program “Fish Eggs to Fry in the Classroom,” offered to public, private and after-school classes in Klamath County for more than 10 years, according to Akimi King, biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

The program helps promote the state of Oregon’s hatchery goal of stocking catchable trout while educating local students about healthy fish habitat, endangered species and water quality.

This year, Kara Contreras’ seventh grade elective ecology class at Brixner Jr. High School was one of a dozen schools receiving Redband trout eggs, a species native to the Klamath Basin.

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The Desert Fish Habitat Partnership 2020 Request For Proposals is Now Open!

+++ Deadline to Apply September 27, 2019 +++

The Desert Fish Habitat Partnership (DFHP) and our partners are proud to announce our 2020 request for project proposals.  As one of 20 federally recognized National Fish Habitat Partnerships (NFHP),  DFHP is a collaborative effort between 11 western states, federal agencies, sovereign tribes, and private conservation groups that seek to cooperatively conserve native desert fish species by protecting, restoring, and enhancing  aquatic ecosystems across their historic range.  While DFHP is supported by several different entities and partners, project funding is made available to grantees annually through the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  

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New culverts improve fish habitat in Mat-Su

By Heather Hintze • June 26, 2019

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough is working to increase salmon runs by improving local habitat.

Over the past few years staff have focused their efforts on replacing culverts that posed obstacles to both adult fish returning to spawn and juveniles heading to sea.

It’s part of a collaborative effort of the Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership that includes local, state and federal agencies.

“A lot of road designs in the past weren’t thinking about fish so much. They were trying to move vehicles across the roads, trying to get water underneath those roads,” said Trent Liebich with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We’re learning over time moving adults upstream is one thing but we also need to be able to move those juveniles as well.

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photo of USFWS employee holding a small lake sturgeon on a boat
Justin Chiotti with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service holds one of the smaller Lake Sturgeon caught during the day. LESTER GRAHAM / MICHIGAN RADIO

Saving the Great Lakes' biggest and oldest fish, the lake sturgeon


The U.S. and Canada are working to restore populations of a prehistoric fish in the Great Lakes that was nearly wiped out. We went out with a crew of researchers to see what they’re doing to bring the sturgeon back.

On the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service vessel, the N’me, researchers are crowded on the small boat. They're headed to Lake Huron at the St. Clair River. Lake Sturgeon gather there.

We weren’t on the water long before a River tour ship packed with grade school kids pulls alongside.

USFWS Researcher: “Who knows what we’re doing out here today?”

Kids: “Fishing!”

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photo of silver carp jumping out of the water
Silver carp jumping in the Fox River. Photo credit: Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

Creature Feature: Holy Carp!

Nancy Henderson

As fish tales go, this one is a catch: In Southeastern rivers and lakes, schools of large catfish-like bottom feeders are terrorizing anglers, boaters and skiers by leaping out of the water, sometimes 10 feet in the air, and smacking them with the force of their heavy bodies.

The strange part about this tall tale is that it’s no exaggeration, but a true story about silver carp, one of four invasive species causing major issues for native fish, other critters and folks trying to enjoy a laidback day on the water.

“You’ll see [the carp] mostly when boating traffic is in there,” says Allan Brown, assistant Southeast regional director of Fish and Aquatic Conservation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Whether the motor in the water triggers their jumping, we don’t know. But those [videos and photos] are not photoshopped, unfortunately. … And if one of those 70-pound fish hits you, it can do some damage to you.”

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