Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Service takes aim at restoring rivers and river systems across the Northeast
Projects connect and open waterways to improve fish habitat and increase public safety

October 23, 2017


Contact: David Eisenhauer


Replacing poorly functioning culverts with fish-friendly culverts like this one helps increase fish passage and reduce risk of flooding during extreme weather events. Credit: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is working with partners across the Northeast to remove aging dams, install fish-friendly culverts and bridges and eliminate other obstructions to restore rivers and river systems to their natural condition.

FWS today announced 25 projects funded through the Service’s National Fish Passage Program (NFPP), which is dedicated to removing barriers to aquatic connectivity and restoring healthy river habitat. This year, FWS awarded $1 million in funding for restoration projects throughout the Northeast.  

Collectively, the projects will restore almost 1,000 miles of river habitat, which will improve mobility for migratory fish and host fishes for mussels, reduce risks of flooding to communities and enhance recreational opportunities.

“Fish passage is important to revitalizing depleted fish populations and helping our region's most important watersheds adapt to changing environmental conditions,” said Wendi Weber, FWS Northeast Regional Director. “Our rivers are lifelines for communities in the Northeast -- providing recreation, water quality, strong economies and other benefits. By connecting and opening rivers and river systems we’re helping wildlife thrive and creating safer, healthier communities for people.”

Partners on the projects range from conservation organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and American Rivers, to federal and state agencies and local organizations like Downeast Salmon Federation. During the past decade, partners across the Northeast have matched the Service’s contribution at nearly 5:1, contributing $56.1 million to the Service’s $12.5 million to restore aquatic connectivity and protect communities.

Funded projects include:

  • In West Virginia, the Service will work in cooperation with American Rivers to remove the Worthington Dam, which will restore 540 miles of the West Fork River to its natural flow, improve habitat for endangered clubshell and snuffbox mussels and remove barriers to fish migration and recreational paddling.

  • In Vermont,the Service will replace Churchville Road culvert in Hancock, which was once a flood risk for the community and a barrier to migrating fish. Originally damaged during Hurricane Irene’s torrential rains, the culvert will be replaced with a bridge that is resilient to future storm events and will help brook trout access coldwater habitat.

  • In Maine, the Service has paired with the Atlantic Salmon Federation to remove the Coopers Mills Dam, a longstanding obstruction to Atlantic salmon accessing spawning habitat in the Sheepscot River. The project will reopen 92 miles of river habitat, as well as building three dry hydrants to maintain local fire prevention water stores.

View the full list of funded projects here.

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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