U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking project applications for up to $36 million in fish passage fish passage
Fish passage is the ability of fish or other aquatic species to move freely throughout their life to find food, reproduce, and complete their natural migration cycles. Millions of barriers to fish passage across the country are fragmenting habitat and leading to species declines. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Fish Passage Program is working to reconnect watersheds to benefit both wildlife and people.

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funding. Projects will be part of a five-year, $200 million Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure and economic competitiveness. We were directly appropriated $455 million over five years in BIL funds for programs related to the President’s America the Beautiful initiative.

Learn more about Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
investment to restore aquatic ecosystems, through the National Fish Passage Program.  Selected projects will address outdated, unsafe or obsolete dams, culverts, levees and other barriers fragmenting our nation’s rivers and streams.  

Proposal Submission Overview and Guidance

For more information about the funding opportunity visit the Financial Assistance Service Page

For full guidelines, eligibility, and criteria refer to F24AS00062.

On this page: 

National Fish Passage Program Overview

A person is walks through a large wide culvert that passes under a gravel road. A small river runs through the culvert.
Across the country, millions of barriers are fragmenting rivers, blocking fish migration, and putting communities at higher risk to flooding. Improving fish passage is one of the most effective ways to help conserve vulnerable species while building safer infrastructure for communities and...

Benefits of Fish Passage Projects For People and the Environment

Fish Passage Projects restore habitats and passage for fish and other aquatic organisms. They also provide a myriad of benefits to communities surrounding the project site both upstream and downstream.  Providing funding for these projects can create jobs in the surrounding community while boosting recreational opportunities and improving the safety of waterways and road-stream crossings. Ultimately, these projects dually benefit communities through infrastructure resilience while also supporting the ecological resilience of species and their habitats.  

Ecosystem Benefits: 

  • More natural stream function including sediment and debris transport, aquatic organism passage, and connection to floodplains. 

  • Improved water quality, overall river health. 

  • Healthier fish and wildlife populations.  

Community Benefits: 

  • Improving water quality helps to reduce water treatment costs.  

  • Replacing aging dams and culverts reduces the risk of severe road damage, catastrophic failure, and other downstream threats.  

  • Restoring a river’s ability to convey flood waters by reconnecting floodplains and removing hazardous instream structures significantly helps to mitigate risks from severe floods. 

What projects are covered under the National Fish Passage Program 

These projects may include physical barriers such as dams, culverts, or inefficient fishways or hydrologic barriers like inadequate flows or water quality issues. The program provides technical expertise, financial assistance, and coordination support to complete aquatic ecosystem restoration projects in both coastal and inland waterways nationwide.  

Grants vs Cooperative Conservation 

The National Fish Passage Program isn’t a grant program but a cooperative conservation program meaning that we strategically identify and develop projects with our partners to ensure funding is used for the highest priority species and trust resources. The program relies on the Service’s network of biologists and engineers stationed throughout the county, most of them at our Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices. 

Who is Eligible for National Fish Passage Funding?  

National Fish Passage Program funding is open to all entities including, but not limited to, federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, Tribes, as well as private landowners. Although the Service aims to prioritize a 1:1 match requirement, the program does not require match.  Service Regions – often via Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices – implement the National Fish Passage Program according to national guidance, criteria, and priorities while also incorporating their own regional priorities such as specific species or focal areas that may not be captured at the national scale.  Service regional and field staff work with partners throughout the year to collaboratively develop project proposals – and as a result National Fish Passage Program has a long-running list of projects in need of funding.  

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law  

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure and economic competitiveness. We were directly appropriated $455 million over five years in BIL funds for programs related to the President’s America the Beautiful initiative.

Learn more about Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
provided $455 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be distributed across five programs. The largest amount, $200 million over five years, was provided to the National Fish Passage Program, the only national scale program to receive Service Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding. This funding more than tripled the annual amount of funding available for fish passage fish passage
Fish passage is the ability of fish or other aquatic species to move freely throughout their life to find food, reproduce, and complete their natural migration cycles. Millions of barriers to fish passage across the country are fragmenting habitat and leading to species declines. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Fish Passage Program is working to reconnect watersheds to benefit both wildlife and people.

Learn more about fish passage
projects under the program.  

National Fish Passage Program Project Funding vs Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding 

Annual appropriation funding under National Fish Passage Program operates separately from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for fish passage projects. Last year, this year, and we expect over the next three years, annual funding and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will be treated as separate funding pots, with separate NOFOs, and different project selection processes.  The existing program, extensive network of partners, and particularly, the program’s long-running repository of unfunded projects allowed the National Fish Passage Program to identify high priority projects and develop funding proposals to put forth for consideration immediately following the BIL signing.  

Accomplishments to Date:  

  • $73 million to 79 fish passage projects across 30 states and Puerto Rico.  

  • Projects will remove, replace, or restore 183 fish passage barriers, reopening access to over 6000 miles of streams and rivers.  

  • The $73 million in project funding was leveraged with $82 million in funding from partners.  

  • $40M has been awarded to 33 tribal projects in 13 states

2024 Opportunity for NFPP BIL Funding

The National Fish Passage Program is now seeking proposals for the second year of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure and economic competitiveness. We were directly appropriated $455 million over five years in BIL funds for programs related to the President’s America the Beautiful initiative.

Learn more about Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
funding. The 2024 NFPP BIL Funding Notice of Funding Opportunity was released Wednesday, October 11. Up to $36 million will be available for funding.  

Key Dates and First Steps for Interested Applicants.  

November 17, 2023 - All applicants are required to send a Letter of Interest to their regional coordinator by November 17.    

Ongoing until mid-January, 2024 – Regional coordinators work with applicants to develop full proposals. Each region sets their own internal deadline for completed applications, reviews their proposals, and sends their priority selections for national consideration and review.    

February 2, 2024 - Regional funding requests are due to FAC HQ for consideration under the national review panel.    

February / March 2024 – The projects that are submitted by the regions will then be considered under the national review panel and selection process. The panel hasn’t been established at this time but will include HQ and regional Service staff as well as external subject matter experts. The panel will review projects according to the points and criteria detailed in the NOFO.    

April 2024 (Anticipated) – Following final review of project lists by Service and DOI leadership, final selection of projects will be announced. Successful projects will be notified of their selection and will be invited to submit their full application through GrantSolutions. The ANTICIPATED release date to the public is sometime in April.    

December 31, 2024 – Due date listed in the NOFO and on GrantSolutions. This final deadline only applies to projects that that are ultimately SELECTED FOR FUNDING after Service and DOI review and approval. Only those project proponents that have been selected for FY24 funds will be INVITED to submit their full application through GrantSolutions to receive their funding award.  

September 30, 2025 – Should the Service choose to select projects for FY25 funding, the NOFO and GrantSolutions due dates would be extended. This would be the final deadline and only applies to projects that that are ultimately SELECTED FOR FUNDING after Service and DOI review and approval. Only those project proponents that have been selected for FY25 funds will be INVITED to submit their full application through GrantSolutions to receive their funding award.  

Letter of Interest

To be considered for NFPP BIL funding, interested applicants must submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) via email to their respective NFPP Regional Coordinator by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on November 17, 2023.

The LOI shall include:

  • a statement of interest in receiving funding under this NFPP BIL funding opportunity announcement,
  • the project name (Project name should have a 50-character limit. This name will be used in publications and web stories. Consider using geographically descriptive site names.),
  • the precise location (latitude/longitude coordinates) of the project; for projects with multiple sites, include coordinates for each site,
  • a brief (1-4 sentence) description of the project objectives and benefits,
  • requested funding amount and expected total project cost,
  • list of expected partners, and
  • name and contact information of the interested applicant.

Project Development : Ongoing until mid-January, 2024:

Between now and February, Service Regional and field FAC program staff and partners should be working together to develop project proposals that respond to the ranking criteria outlined in the funding opportunity.  Once project proposals have been developed, they will first be reviewed by and prioritized within the respective Service region, considering the National Fish Passage Program Bipartisan Infrastructure Law criteria and other regional priorities – this process will likely occur in mid to late January, but fish passage fish passage
Fish passage is the ability of fish or other aquatic species to move freely throughout their life to find food, reproduce, and complete their natural migration cycles. Millions of barriers to fish passage across the country are fragmenting habitat and leading to species declines. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Fish Passage Program is working to reconnect watersheds to benefit both wildlife and people.

Learn more about fish passage
regional coordinators will have specific details relevant to their region.  

Following project development with partners, FWS Regions will submit their funding request to HQ by February 2, 2024.  

  • Partners should work with FWS field and/or regional staff to develop proposals.  
  • Projects should meet the Project Selection Criteria outlined in the NOFO 
  • Projects developed will be reviewed and ranked by FWS Regions before submission to the National Review Panel.

NFPP BIL FY 2024 Proposal Selection Criteria 

Full project selection criteria can be found in section E1 of the NOFO.  

Ecological Benefits (55 points) 

Benefits to Priority Species and Habitats (20 points): This criterion assesses the expected benefits of the project for priority species and habitats, including how the project will enhance climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

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resilience for species and habitat. To what extent is the project expected to address, mitigate, or resolve limiting factors or otherwise contribute to the recovery or sustainability of native priority species and their habitats? How significant is the expected impact of the project on the affected species and habitats? Clearly indicate if the project addresses components of established recovery, management, or state wildlife action plans, if applicable, for the species benefited.

  • For the purposes of this NOFO, native priority species include Federal trust species, Service regional priority species, as well as species that may be considered Tribal trust resources (as defined in 510 FW 1 The Service's Native American Policy) and Species of Greatest Conservation Need as defined in State Wildlife Action Plans. Indicate species listing status under ESA if it applies to any species benefitted.
  • This may include the number of stream miles reopened or acres of wetland or floodplain habitat restored or reconnected. If including stream miles reopened or aquatic habitat connected, please include an explanation of the geographic context, expected species use or benefits, and/or quality of the habitat to be reopened.
  • Indicate if the project is expected to benefit several priority species and a variety of life stages including passage to/ restoration of spawning, rearing, and/or foraging habitats or habitats of special significance to the species life history. Projects that will benefit more than one priority species, a variety of life stages, or identified important habitat will score higher on this criterion.
  • To what extent is the project expected to enhance natural system ecological resilience (the capacity to recover from or persist through disturbances or changes)



Permanence of Fish Passage Benefits (15 points): This criterion focuses on the sustainability of the project benefits. Projects that focus on the removal of barriers and natural channel or floodplain restoration will score higher than projects that focus on establishing passage around a barrier using methods that are reliant on artificial passage structures such as fishways or fish ladders. Natural channel design and floodplain connection projects that restore full fluvial or ecosystem function are expected to have a higher likelihood of long-term success than projects that rely on fishways or other structures that require operations and maintenance or that may need to be modified to continue to provide passage with changing conditions. This criterion also assesses whether there are plans for monitoring the near-term implementation success to ensure the project was built as designed and on an appropriate trajectory for providing sustainable fish passage fish passage
Fish passage is the ability of fish or other aquatic species to move freely throughout their life to find food, reproduce, and complete their natural migration cycles. Millions of barriers to fish passage across the country are fragmenting habitat and leading to species declines. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Fish Passage Program is working to reconnect watersheds to benefit both wildlife and people.

Learn more about fish passage
benefits. 

  • Describe the fish passage/restoration approach and techniques planned and discuss how the benefits provided by the project are expected to be sustainable into the future considering site and watershed characteristics and possible changing conditions. 

  • Describe if/how the project aims to restore full fluvial function by adhering to climate-robust design standards that maximize restoration of fluvial, floodplain, or tidal ecosystem processes or by proposing full barrier removal: 

  • Does the project propose the removal of an instream barrier rather than the installation of a structure structure
    Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head.

    Learn more about structure
    that may require regular operations and maintenance in the future (e.g., fishway)? If a structural solution such as a fishway is proposed, the proposal must include a plan to provide the needed short and long-term operations and maintenance capacity and costs. Does the plan adequately address potential adaptive management and maintenance? Does the plan demonstrate appropriate funding and staffing capacity to implement it long-term? 

  • Does the project include a plan for near-term implementation monitoring to ensure site/structures were constructed according to approved designs and on an appropriate trajectory to ensure permanence of fish passage benefits? 

 

Regional and Watershed Context (15 points) This criterion assesses the project’s importance in the watershed or other geographic context and whether it leverages other investments in ecological restoration in the watershed. Projects that leverage other Federal investments in ecological restoration in the watershed and that are significant in their geographic context will score higher on this criterion. 

  • How is the project important relative to a watershed, landscape, or other geographic context? How does the project implement restoration priorities or compliment ongoing activities in a larger geographic context?
  • Is the project expected to leverage or significantly contribute to regional or watershed restoration efforts including those outlined in a regional or watershed plan or other prioritization established by a Federal, State, local or Tribal fish and wildlife agency?
    • Examples of regional or watershed initiatives could include DOI’s Keystone Initiatives, regionally identified priority watersheds, NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint, Bureau of Land Management’s Restoration Landscapes, or Environmental Protection Agency’s Geographic Programs or others.
  • In addition to the project’s specific watershed context, how does it leverage other investments in the watershed from BIL, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful Initiative, and other Federally funded programs as appropriate?
    • Examples of non-NFPP funding may include the National Culvert Removal, Replacement, and Restoration Grant Program (Federal Highway Administration); Restoring Tribal Priority Fish Passage through Barrier Removal under the IIJA (NOAA Fisheries); Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dam Grant Program (FEMA); and Legacy Roads and Trails Program (USFS).

Human Community Benefits (30 points) 

Benefits for community resilience to climate change impacts and other co-benefits (15 points): This criterion assesses how the project will improve resiliency to the impacts of climate change and provide other social/ economic benefits for human communities.

  • To what extent will the project improve resilience (the capacity to recover from or persist through disturbances or changes) to the impacts of climate change for the surrounding human community? How will the project actions reduce vulnerability to the specific climate change impacts or hazards that are most threatening to the local community?
  • To what extent will the project provide other co-benefits for the community such as improved public safety, benefits to public transportation systems, reduced flood risk, increased recreational opportunities, or long-term job creation?

Achieves Environmental Justice Goals of Investing in Communities (10 points): This criterion assesses whether the project will provide meaningful and measurable benefits to Tribal community or to an identified Disadvantaged community.

  • Is the project located within and/or will the project benefit extend into a community identified as “disadvantaged” on the CEQ Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST)? If so, proposals should list the community tract number(s) identified as disadvantaged in the CEJST that will benefit.
  • The CEJST is the primary tool that should be used in identifying disadvantaged communities, though the following tools provide additional sources of information related to specific factors that impact disadvantaged communities and may be referenced to support narrative responses.
  • Communities identified as disadvantaged through tools other than CEJST can receive partial points in this category. See reference variables listed in OMB Memo M-21-28 (Interim Definition of Disadvantaged Communities, p. 2) and supporting data from geospatial tools below for other factors that contribute to disadvantaged communities:
    • EPA EJ Screen: to use EJ Screen factors in identifying a community as disadvantaged, list the national percentile of 50th or above for indices relevant to variables listed in OMB memo.
    • CDC Social Vulnerability Index: to use CDC SVI factors in identifying a community as disadvantaged, list a 2018 Overall SVI Score of 0.5 or above, or 0.5 or above for individual themes relevant to variables listed in OMB memo.
    • If the project will benefit a community identified as disadvantaged, describe the specific, realistic, and meaningful project benefits to the community that will result from the project. Some examples of factors that may provide benefits could include transportation safety or security improvements achieved by addressing failing infrastructure (culverts or dams); removal of legacy structures that have negative impacts to public safety or water quality, reduction of flood or fire potential, improvements to greenspaces that can provide access for recreation or reduce urban heat island impacts, etc.
  • Will a Tribal or Indigenous community benefit from the project? Describe clearly the specific, meaningful project benefits to the indigenous community. In addition to the factors described above, when describing benefits to indigenous communities, consider the restoration of tribal treaty rights and resources, activities on tribal lands or throughout traditional use areas, subsistence resources, as well as fish populations that are essential to indigenous culture.
    • Indigenous communities may refer to Indian Tribes (as defined in 25 U.S.C. 5304(e)), Native Hawaiian Communities, tribal commissions, tribal consortia, and other tribal organizations.

Is this a Tribal Project? (5 points):

  • Is an Indian Tribe (as defined in 25 U.S.C. 5304(e)) intended to be the prime recipient of the funding, a substantially involved partner on the project, or the primary beneficiary of project benefits? Substantially involved partner is defined as a Tribe being a project signatory or contributing funding, in-kind match, or material resources to the project. Specific information related to verifying Tribal substantial involvement should be provided or will be requested during the project review and ranking phase.

Partnerships, Funding, and Timeline (15 points) 

Leveraged Funds (5 points): This criterion assesses the ratio of leveraged funds to maximize species conservation.

  • While there is no mandatory match requirement, projects with a higher ratio of leveraged funds will score higher on these criteria. NFPP encourages cost and resource sharing to build partnerships and demonstrate partner support for the projects. To what extent will the project leverage non-NFPP funds? Leveraged funds can include any non-NFPP funding or in-kind services or materials. List the specific funding sources and funding program, funding amounts, and status (pending, secured).

  • Projects where the intended funding recipient is an Indian Tribe (as defined in 25 U.S.C. 5304(e)) will receive full points under this sub-criterion, regardless of the actual leveraged funds.





Community Support (5 points): This criterion assesses whether there is broad stakeholder and community support for the project, demonstrated through contributions of financial and technical resources, prioritization of the project in management plans or other planning efforts, or other commitments to the project’s success. 

  • To what extent is the project supported by partners and the local community? Include key affected stakeholders, such as state agencies managing affected species/resources and tribes with affected tribal resources.



Estimated Project Duration and Timeline of Project Milestones (5 points): This criterion assesses whether there is a clear and reasonable timeline for project completion. Projects that demonstrate that they can proceed to construction and provide fish passage benefits within 1-4 years will score higher on this criterion.

  • Clearly describe what stage/s of the project and key components are being considered for funding.
  • Fill out the budget table and clearly indicate the anticipated month / year planned for implementation of each key task as well as the associated NFPP requested funding amount for each task.
  • If the proposal primarily includes feasibility and planning activities, does the proposal include an explanation of known or expected technical approaches and key steps and timelines for full implementation of the project? Does proposal demonstrate that the project could proceed to construction in a timely manner (ideally construction complete within 1-4 years, even if outside this funding request / award)?
  • For construction projects, does the timeline for key milestones such as the status of relevant permitting and environmental compliance indicate that the project can realistically proceed to construction and provide fish passage benefits in a timely manner (ideally construction complete within 1-4 years)?

Example Budget Table

Project Component (salary, materials, subcontracts for construction, etc.)Planned Month / Year to ImplementNFPP Funding Request
Total

Coordinating Interagency Fish Passage Implementation 

June 2022 - Federal Leadership Roundtable: Director Martha Williams organized leaders from 9-10 federal agencies for a conversation on how they can come together to take advantage of this once in a generation opportunity.   

July 2022- Fish Passage Workshop: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the National Fish Habitat Partnership to convene a workshop at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia focused on fish passage fish passage
Fish passage is the ability of fish or other aquatic species to move freely throughout their life to find food, reproduce, and complete their natural migration cycles. Millions of barriers to fish passage across the country are fragmenting habitat and leading to species declines. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Fish Passage Program is working to reconnect watersheds to benefit both wildlife and people.

Learn more about fish passage
opportunities through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure and economic competitiveness. We were directly appropriated $455 million over five years in BIL funds for programs related to the President’s America the Beautiful initiative.

Learn more about Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
. The workshop brought together more than 100 practitioners from federal and state agencies, Native American Tribes, and NGOs to begin identifying shared goals and the challenges we need to work through to make the most of this unprecedented opportunity. The workshop occurred over three days and consisted of a mix of plenaries, breakout groups, and larger group report outs to align objectives, identify potential barriers to collaboration, and promote effective implementation of this funding nationwide.  

September / October 2022 - Small Group Discussions: Following the productive discussions at NCTC in July, we convened a series of small workgroups consisting of all federal and non-federal partners to discuss ideas, gather data, and develop an initial set of options for agency consideration on how to promote the effective implementation of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding.  

November 2022 – Federal Leadership Roundtable 2.0: The group recently developed an initial set of options and will to present them to Federal agency leadership at another gathering of agency leadership in early December. We are hoping for some decisions on a strategic, interagency approach to fish passage under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. We’re anticipating these decisions to focus on strategically focusing funds and activities, improving approaches to implementing projects and assessing outcomes, measuring and communicating progress, coordinating across federal agencies, and seeking feedback from partners and other stakeholders.  

In early 2023, we hope to circle back with non-Federal partners and ultimately, begin implementing the strategic decisions made under this effort for the effective implementation of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law fish passage funding.