Fish and Aquatic Conservation


The National Fish Passage Program (NFPP) is a voluntary, non-regulatory initiative that provides funding and technical assistance to restore aquatic connectivity and fish habitats by removing or bypassing barriers to fish.

Free-flowing rivers give fish unrestricted access to habitat. Waters harnessed by agriculture or industry, or controlled to protect property see precipitous declines in fish numbers, and in some cases complete removal of once abundant fishes. Today, more than six million barriers exist—some of which have outlived their original intent. Not only do they obstruct fish passage and decrease the resilience of aquatic species, the barriers serve no purpose. Moreover, many have become health and safety hazards for people.


  • Connects habitats creating healthier fish and wildlife.
  • Yields quality habitat, better angling, and improved water sports, and more associated economic activity. In a word, that means jobs.
  • Facilitates improved riverine and watershed function with implications to decreased property damage at high flows.
  • Incorporates local labor performing on-the-ground work.

The cost of maintaining an obsolete dam or other barrier may exceed the expense of removing a barrier or installing a bypass that will be resilient in the face of significant stream flows.

Dam Removal

Marshfield Dam Removal, Winooski River, Marshfield, VT
In 1999 a fish kill eliminated the brook trout community for five miles upstream of the Winooski River. This will reconnect the 4 miles above the derelict dam with the 15 miles of downstream of the dam.

Marshfield 8 Dam   Marshfield Dam after
Construction crew starting on deconstruction of the Marshfield 8 Dam Removal
(Credit: BJ Allaire, USFWS)
  After the dam has been fully removed
(Credit: Jaime Masterson, USFWS)

Culvert Replacement

Replace Prosperity Road crossing on Little Niangua River to benefit threatened Niangua darter. This location is a key component of improving fish passage and habitat stability in a significant portion of federally designated critical habitat. 

Prosperity Road Crossing before   Prosperity Road Crossing after

Prosperity Road Crossing (before removal, Credit: Nate Frohnauer, USFWS)

  Completed Prosperity Road crossing on the Little Niangua River (Credit: Heather Calkins-FWS)

Fish Screen and Water Diversion

BQ diversion and fish screens on Twin Creek in Wyoming. This project benefits water users as well as providing fish passage and saving 10's of thousands of fish annually in the system. During 2008 Trout Unlimited operated a fish trap , a total of 402 fish (all native species), including 1 Bonneville cutthroat trout, 15 northern leatherside chubs, and 2 bluehead suckers. In addition we captured 5 longnose dace, 132 redside shiners, 178 mountain suckers, 23 speckled dace, 45 Utah suckers, and 1 sculpin.

BQ Fish Screen
BQ Fish Screen just below the diversion (credit Cory Toye)


Red River Fish Passage at Christine and Hickson Dams in Minnesota and North Dakota

Fish passage was identified as a major component to the success of lake sturgeon restoration in the Red River watershed and on the White Earth Reservation. Christine and Hickson dams were 2 of 3 remaining mainstem dams that prevented fish from freely migrating upstream to access spawning habitat in the upper Red River.

Christine Dam   Hickson Dam
Christine Dam   Hickson Dam, Red River near Fargo, ND


Dike and Levee removal in the Lower MS River - Kangaroo Point

The project will directly reconnect 41 acres of active floodplain habitat to the Naches River and will reconnect 2 side channels that were cut off by the original levee construction in 1974.

Kangaroo Point Dikes before   Kangaroo Point Dikes after

Kangaroo Point Dikes Before Construction
(Credit: LMRCC)


Kangaroo Point Dikes Post Construction
(Credit: LMRCC)



Tropical storm Irene devastated much of the White River basin in 2011 including at the Rochester Cemetery where an unsafe temporary structure had to be used in order to reconnect the road for access post flooding. Our objective was to insure that brook trout habitat is available (passage) and healthy (restoration) post flooding.  NFPP collaborated with FEMA’s emergency response needs as well as the Town of Rochester needs.  Working closely with White River Partnership and the Town of Rochester, the US Fish and Wildlife Service NFPP was able to provide tech­nical assistance, engineering designs, funding and project over site to ensure projects allow both fish and aquatic organism passage.  Our goals were simple: maintain healthy, sustainable brook trout popula­tions by assisting towns with their post disaster flooding response.

Cemetery before the storm   Cemetery after the storm
Rochester Cemetery before the storm   Rochester Cemetery after the storm
Last updated: September 14, 2015