BIL's Turning 2 and it's a Fish-Themed Party!
Graduating from Blowouts to Bridges

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While most two-year-olds are still blowing out their nappies, BIL (short for 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.

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) investments are blowing out 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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barriers across Alaska and no one is more relieved than the fish and people who depend on them. 

To the chagrin of new parents and older siblings everywhere who deal with frequent and messy delays, road-stream crossings that fail during high flows are also violent, forceful events that can totally derail your plans. Pint-sized culverts become firehoses and eventually clog with debris. With nowhere to go, water overtops and saturates the road until the pressure mangles the corrugated metal and carries the road and everything therein downstream in a whoosh of turbid, angry water. The clean-up is significant and leaves everyone dreaming of the day when the culvert will finally mature into a bridge. Because bridges can handle what life throws their way and let everyone on the road or in the water go where they need to go. Parentals can all breathe a sigh of a relief.  

Don't be a party pooper like this culvert that got blown out from under a road crossing the Little Tonsina River. Be a channel-spanning 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.

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. Collage by Tia Vaughn

In 2006, the Little Tonsina River had a blowout when she reached flood stage and overwhelmed an access road in Alaska’s Valdez-Cordova Borough—homelands to Ahtna people and an area that Sugpiaq and rural Alaskans depend on for access to hunting and fishing, wild food security, and cultural ties to the land. 

Fast forward to 2023 and she's graduated from too-small culverts to a channel-spanning bridge, thanks to BIL joining forces with friends who have been playing well together in the Copper River watershed for years. Auntie Martha even came to visit and see BIL's bridge! Read more.

BIL is hitting all the milestones

Will my two-year old also hit these milestones? No. But there’s a cool project that’s been put to bed in Gustavus, Alaska! Nighty night bad culvert and hello new bridge! The new timber bridge joins a whole cohort of channel-spanning bridges throughout the Good River watershed. Read more

A big boy bridge in Gustavus, Alaska. 

So far, BIL funding is going toward nine Alaska projects, totaling $7.6 million and leveraging an additional $20 million. In total, these projects will remove 41 barriers, opening 215 miles of stream and river habitat and over 360 acres of lake and wetland habitats for several salmonid species. 

What to expect in year 3+

Tyonek Creek Culvert Replacement for the Benefit of Subsistence Resources & Restoring Access to Tyonek Creek

Making Progress Towards a Barrier-Free Copper River

Deep Creek Watershed Fish Passage Improvements 

Subsistence Salmon Habitat Restoration 

Metlakatla Indian Community Fish Passage Project 

Yakutat Forest Highway 10 Aquatic Organism Passage

In Alaska we are shared stewards of world renowned natural resources and our nation’s last true wild places. Our hope is that each generation has the opportunity to live with, live from, discover and enjoy the wildness of this awe-inspiring land and the people who love and depend on it. 

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