This multi-year project seeks to reconnect habitat and restore 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
in Fairbanks, Alaska. 

Cripple Creek’s natural channel was abandoned in 1935 when streamflow was diverted into an artificial drain constructed to carry wastewater and sediment from hydraulic mining activity in the Ester area. Though mining activity ceased years ago, the drain channel has remained the primary conduit for streamflow. The straight, channelized drain has offered relatively poor Chinook rearing habitat for many years. 

The Interior Alaska Land Trust, in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, has studied the feasibility of restoring Cripple Creek in the lower Chena River watershed for almost a decade, including funding several extensive studies by Herrera Environmental Consultants and DOWL HKM Engineering. After years of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, restoring Cripple Creek has become possible. The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities plans to reconnect two reaches of the abandoned natural channel by installing a fish passage culvert where fill was placed during the construction of Chena Ridge Road. With their commitment to this single multi-million dollar element, and through additional work by the Land Trust, Alaska DOT&PF will remove the largest obstacle in the restoring Cripple Creek. Three additional smaller obstacles remain. Two involve culverts which are (at least partial) barriers to fish passage. The final step involves redirecting flow from the upper reaches of the drain back into the historic natural channel. After careful analysis by habitat biologists, it was determined that improving fish passage at the Old Chena Ridge Road culvert crossing provides the greatest immediate habitat benefit because its downstream location ensures flow no matter whether the drain or the restored historic channel conveys Cripple Creek water.

Contact Information

man in the snow
Habitat Branch - Fish and Wildlife Biologist (Interior Alaska)
Fish and Aquatic Conservation,
National Fish Passage Program,
Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Salmon habitat restoration,



Juvenile Northern Pike in aquarium at Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery, South Dakota
The Fish and Aquatic Conservation program leads aquatic conservation efforts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are committed to tackling the nation’s highest priority aquatic conservation and recreational challenges to conserve, restore, and enhance fisheries for future generations.
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...


Based in Fairbanks, and in collaboration with our Utqiaġvik (Barrow) Satellite Office, we work with others to deliver conservation over approximately 338-million acres of Alaska. Our responsibilities generally range from the Yukon River Delta region in southwest Alaska, eastward to the Canadian...

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