Fish Passage Technical and Planning Assistance

The National Fish Passage Program provides financial and technical assistance for projects that improve the ability of fish or other aquatic species to migrate by reconnecting habitat that has been fragmented by a barrier such as a dam or culvert. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and engineers are available to provide assistance in the planning, design, implementation, and monitoring of select 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

How do I apply for funding through the National Fish Passage Program? 

You must work with a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office biologist to be considered for funding. To begin this process, please contact your Regional Fish Passage Coordinator or your local Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office. Service biologists will discuss the project with you and help ensure it is a good fit for the National Fish Passage Program. It is recommended that you do this early in the process so they can help guide the creation of your proposal. 

Proposals are accepted year-round; however, the funding cycle for fish passage projects begins each year in fall with compilation of the projects being proposed for the following year’s funding. The projects are reviewed and prioritized in winter. Generally, funding for selected projects becomes available the following spring but the timing is dependent upon federal budget allocation.  Funding is administered through the regional and local Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices. 

How are projects prioritized? 

Proposals will be reviewed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The following criteria, as well as other criteria dependent on the region, will be used in this process to prioritize projects and make funding decisions. 

High priority fish passage projects: 

  • Show the greatest ecological benefits for trust species 
  • Exhibit permanence of fish passage benefits
  • Make use of the most current scientific knowledge and proven technology 
  • Evidence the greatest public support, and generate the maximum in matching contributions 

What is the average funding level for a fish passage project? 

On average the program contributes about $70,000 per project. There is no upper limit to project funding.    

Are non-federal matching funds required? 

The National Fish Passage Program has flexibility on matching funds from project to project but strives to achieve a 50% match from federal or non-federal sources. This can include in-kind contributions. 

Get started planning a project with us.

Fish passage project proposals can be initiated by any individual, organization, government, or agency. However, proposals must be submitted and completed in cooperation with a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office. 

Get Started

Library Collections

An open-bottom culvert-- a structure under a road-- allows fish passage at Cottonwood Creek in Wasilla, Alaska.
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...