Newsroom Midwest Region

August 26, 2011

Brian Elkington, 612-713-5168
Ashley Spratt, 612-713-5314

USFWS Fish Passage Program works with Midwest partners to solve barrier problems

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded more than $1.5 million in 2011 through the National Fish Passage Program to support projects in Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio and Missouri.  Funding will support the removal of 20 fish passage barriers, reconnecting more than 545 stream miles, as well as survey and monitoring activities.  These projects are supported by an additional $3.2 million in matching, non-federal funds.
Construction of millions of culverts, dams, dikes, water diversions, and other artificial barriers impound and redirect water for flood control, drinking water, electricity, irrigation, and transportation -- all changing the natural features of rivers and streams.  Balancing the importance of stream connectivity for local fish species with the construction of these structures is a conservation challenge.

Through the National Fish Passage Program, the Service and its partners have begun to reverse the harmful impacts of artificial barriers to native fish species and the aquatic environment.  The Fish Passage Program uses a voluntary, non-regulatory approach to work with municipal, state, tribal and federal agencies, as well as non-governmental agencies to reopen and improve aquatic habitats in streams and rivers.  The program provides funding and technical expertise to partners to remove or bypass dams and other obstructions and replace or improve culverts under roads or railroad tracks -- all to allow fish to swim through.

2011 Fish Passage Program project examples in the Midwest include:

Michigan - $232,049.10 on-the-ground federal funds and $1,685,000 in partner contributions to completely remove Brown Bridge Dam in Grand Traverse County and restore the stream channel and associated riparian corridor and wetlands. Funding from the Fish Passage program will be combined with other funding to complete the entire removal, restoration and monitoring process and reconnect 145 stream miles.

Minnesota - $100,000 on-the-ground federal funds and $160,000 in partner contributions to remove Montevideo Dam on the Chippewa River in Chippewa County, which will reconnect 18 stream miles.

Missouri - $85,000 on-the-ground federal funds and $115,000 in partner contributions to replace a low water crossing over the Little Niangua River to benefit threatened Niangua darter in Dallas County, which will reconnect 6.1 stream miles.

Illinois - $11,760 on-the-ground federal funds and $11,760 in partner contributions to fund the
planning, permitting, and removal of the Konopasek Dam on the North Branch Kishwaukee River in McHenry County, which will reconnect 20.7 stream miles.

Iowa - $42,000 on-the-ground federal funds and $43,000 in partner contributions to replace three perched culvert structures on Buck Creek in Hamilton County, which will reconnect 13.5 stream miles.

Ohio - $30,000 on-the-ground federal funds and $67,240 in partner contributions to replace a multi-celled culvert system on Archers Fork, a major tributary to the Little
Muskingum River in Washington County, with box culverts, which will allow fish passage under most stream flows. The project is intended to enhance the biological health of both Archers Fork and the Little Muskingum River watershed and reconnect 9.25 stream miles.

Wisconsin - $45,000 on-the-ground federal and $45,000 in partner contributions to replace an existing culvert on the Middle Inlet stream in Marinette County with an aluminized “floorless” plate arch with sufficient geometry to match base channel flow and minimize stream velocities associated with the existing culvert.  This will reconnect over 14 stream miles.

In many cases, these funds go directly to on-the-ground replacement of deteriorating structures, which helps to improve local infrastructure while supporting local economies and reconnecting fish habitat at the same time.

Since its inception in 1999, the National Fish Passage Program has removed or bypassed 950 barriers, restoring access to almost 15,500 miles of river and 82,100 acres of wetlands.  The Program has also been able to leverage an average of three dollars for every project dollar spent through its partners.

For more information about the Fish Passage Program, visit our home page at:

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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