The Fish Passage Program works with local communities on a voluntary basis to restore rivers and conserve our nation’s aquatic resources by removing or bypassing barriers. Our projects benefit both fish and people.

What We Do

Our Projects and Initiatives

We work with communities to remove obsolete and dangerous dams, permanently eliminating public safety hazards and restoring river ecosystems.

The program also works with transportation agencies and others to improve road stream crossings so that the streams can flow naturally beneath them. The resulting infrastructure is more resilient to flooding and benefits communities by saving money in long-term repair and replacement costs. We collaborate with landowners to adapt water diversion systems so that the systems are efficient at retrieving and moving water as well as saving fish.

Since 1999, the National Fish Passage Program has:

  • Worked with over 2,000 local communities, Tribes, and private landowners across the country.
  • Removed or bypassed over 3,400 barriers to fish passage.
  • Reopened access to over 61,000 miles of upstream habitat for fish and other wildlife. 

$200 million dollar investment in rivers, wildlife, and communities. 

 The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed in November 2021, includes $200 million for restoring fish and wildlife passage by removing in-stream barriers and providing technical assistance under the National Fish Passage Program. The funding is distributed over five years and delivers $38 million to 40 projects in 23 states and Puerto Rico in 2022 alone, providing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our nation’s rivers, streams, and communities. 

We are currently seeking project applications for $38 million in fish passage funding in 2023.

Applicants must work with a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office Biologist to be considered for funding. To begin this process, submit a Letter of Intent to your Regional Fish Passage Coordinator by December 16, 2022. The letter of intent is a brief document that outlines the applicant’s intent to work with the Service to propose a project for consideration under NFPP BIL FY2023. 

Contact a Regional Fish Passage Coordinator to get started. 

Find a National Fish Passage Program project in your neighborhood.

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Our Services

We provide financial and technical assistance to support projects that improve community infrastructure resilience, rebuild fish populations, improve recreational and commercial fisheries, and restore the beauty of free-flowing waters. 

We are currently seeking project applications for $38 million in fish passage funding. Projects will be part of the  five-year, $200 million 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.  

Our Library

Explore our library of fish passage resources, stories, and projects. 

Fish passage is the ability of fish or other aquatic species to move throughout an aquatic system among all habitats necessary to complete their life cycle.
Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation are some of the primary factors in the decline of native species. Various sources of pollution are also worsening water quality and habitat. We work with tribes, states, and other partners to identify population and management objectives, address the...

Our Species

 

Alewife, another name for River Herring. Alewives spawn in freshwater but spend most of their life at sea. They don’t jump like salmon, but they can swim very fast in short bursts to pass through rapids. They migrate from the ocean back to their home rivers in spring, where they were hatched to spawn.

Did you know, fish migrate too?

There are the marathoners of the fish world, like the Atlantic salmon, which migrate 6,000 miles annually to return to the rivers where they were born to spawn a new generation of salmon. Others are short distance swimmers, like small darters, which need to move as little as a half mile for food. Whether long-distance swimmers or not, all have something in common: fish need to migrate or move to get to habitats where they can spawn, feed, find shelter, and escape extreme temperatures or water flows.

Unfortunately, many fish can’t complete their migration because of fish passage barriers such as dams, road culverts, and levees. There are millions of barriers in the U.S. that keep fish, and other aquatic species like mussels, from reaching their travel destinations. Environmental barriers such as low water levels and poor water quality also affect fish migration. The National Fish Passage Program works to remove or restore barriers to fish passage and reconnect aquatic habitats.