Fish Passage Program Provides Access to Native Fish Habitat

Fish Passage Program Provides Access to Native Fish Habitat

This year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services National Fish Passage Program provided nearly $8.3 million to remove or bypass more than 168 barriers to 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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. Along with nearly $18 million in partnership funds, the Fish Passage Program will help reopen 1,716 miles of streams and rivers and 9,471 acres nationwide to improve habitats for recreational fish and imperiled aquatic species.

The Pacific Region, which includes the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho, received more than $658,000 of this national funding for five projects. The project descriptions are provided below:

  • John Day River Basin, Oregon - $55,000 in Service funding and $440,000 in partner funds to restore passage at six diversions, allowing access to an additional 40.8 miles of stream habitat for the Mid-Columbia River steelhead salmon and threatened bull trout, as well as spring Chinook salmon, redband trout and other native fish species.
  • Fish Haven Creek, Idaho - $250,000 in Service funding and $350,000 in partner funds to improve passage at five diversion structures for Bear Lake Bonneville cutthroat trout. This will allow access to seven miles of an important historic spawning tributary via reconnection of fragmented habitat. This project includes screening five existing irrigation structures to reduce canal entrainment for Bonneville cutthroat trout and other adult and juvenile native fish species within Fish Haven Creek.
  • Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Washington - $250,000 in Service funding and $2.4 million in partner funds to remove sod and trees from the outer refuge levees in preparation for their removal. Interior refuge levees and water control structures will be constructed to manage freshwater wetlands once the outer levees are removed. This project will restore 700 acres of estuary for Chinook, coho and chum salmon as well as steelhead and rainbow trout.
  • Trout Creek, Washington - $57,500 in Service funding and $50,000 in partner funds to remove the Hemlock Dam and reopen 15 miles of aquatic habitat in Trout, Layout, Compass, Crater and Planting creeks. This project will eliminate an impediment to downstream migration of Lower Columbia River steelhead, rainbow trout and threatened Lower Columbia River salmon. Pre-implementation monitoring is being conducted at this time.
  • Fish passage inventory/database and prioritization, Idaho -- $35,000 in Service funds and $15,000 in partner funds to identify all fish passage barriers in the state of Idaho that pose a risk to native fish populations. This information will be added to the Fish Passage Decision Support System. This project will work with federal, state, tribal agencies and non-governmental organizations to consolidate Idaho fish passage and barrier data, identify additional barrier surveys and develop a prioritization process for funding projects.

Since its inception in 1999, the National Fish Passage Program has removed or bypassed 655 barriers, restoring access to nearly 10,612 miles of river and 51,361 acres of wetlands. The Program has also been able to leverage an average of three dollars for every project dollar spent through its partners.

The widespread issue of fish passage is the result of the construction of millions of culverts, dikes, water diversions, dams and other artificial barriers that impound and redirect water for irrigation, flood control, electricity, drinking water and transportation - all changing natural features of rivers and streams. As the Services understanding of the response of fisheries to these barriers has grown, efforts have begun to reverse the negative impacts theyve had on our fish and environment. The Fish Passage Program uses a voluntary, non-regulatory approach to work with municipal, state, tribal and federal agencies, as well as non-governmental agencies to reopen and improve aquatic habitats in the nations streams and rivers. The program provides funding and technical expertise to partners to remove or bypass dams and other obstructions and replace or improve culverts under roads or railroad tracks - all to allow fish to swim through. The goal of the program is to restore native fish and other aquatic species to self-sustaining levels by reconnecting habitat that has been fragmented by barriers.

For a complete list of approved 2008 projects go to:

For more information about the Fish Passage Program, visit our home page at: