Midwest Region


May 23, 2012

Brian Elkington, USFWS, 612-713-5168
Katie Steiger-Meister, USFWS, 612-713-5314

Fish Passage Program works with Midwest partners to solve barrier problems

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to announce that $1.48 million in 2012 will be awarded through the National Fish Passage Program to support projects in the Midwest Region – including Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Funding will support the removal of 19 fish passage barriers, reconnecting more than 219 stream miles, as well as engineering studies, survey’s and assessments, and monitoring activities. These projects are supported by an additional $7.89 million in matching funds.

Construction of millions of culverts, dams, dikes, water diversions, and other artificial barriers are changing the natural features of rivers and streams by impounding and redirecting water for flood control, drinking water, electricity, irrigation, and transportation. Balancing the importance of stream connectivity for local fish species with the construction of these structures is an ongoing conservation challenge.

Through the National Fish Passage Program, the Service and its partners are working 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, Federal and 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 to allow fish to swim through.

2012 Fish Passage Program projects in the Midwest include:

Iowa - $168,000 on-the-ground federal funds and $210,000 in partner contributions to modify a grade control structure in loess hills region, Taylor County, Iowa, which will reconnect over 64 stream miles.

Illinois - $10,000 on-the-ground federal funds and $10,000 in partner contributions to fund the investigation and engineering of placing fish passage on the Wonder Lake Dam in McHenry County, Illinois, to potentially reconnect 80 stream miles.

Michigan - $35,000 on-the-ground federal funds and $1,356,000 in partner contributions to remove Saunders Dam on the Black River in Otsego County, Michigan, which will reconnect 10 stream miles.

Minnesota - $120,000 on-the-ground federal funds and $5,110,000 in partner contributions to restore connectivity of Grand Marais Creek to the Red River of the North, Polk County, Minnesota, which will restore 6 miles of stream channel and reconnect 41 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, Missouri, which will reconnect 3 stream miles.

Wisconsin - $23,850 on-the-ground federal funds and $58,200 in partner contributions to replace the existing culvert and dam structures to benefit native brook trout populations in Monroe County, Wisconsin, which will reconnect 10.6 stream miles and 0.9 wetland acres.

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. The goal of the program is to restore populations of native fish and other aquatic species to self-sustaining levels by reconnecting habitat that has been fragmented by artificial barriers and diversions.

Since its inception in 1999, the National Fish Passage Program has removed or bypassed 1,118 barriers, restoring access to almost 17,683 miles of river and 118,824 acres of wetlands. The Program has also been able to leverage an average of more than three dollars for every project dollar spent through its partners.

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


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Last updated: June 15, 2016