Interior Department Announces $35M for National Fish Passage Projects

Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington are among 22 states sharing in $35 million in federal funding to address outdated or obsolete dams, culverts, levees and other barriers to fish in the nation’s rivers and streams.

Dams built in the western U.S. over the past 100 years to provide power for communities have made it difficult for salmon to return to their natal streams to spawn. The resulting decline of salmon has adversely impacted people and wildlife, including marine mammals and birds, that depend on the fish for sustenance.

The Interior Department’s April 21 announcement is part of the agency’s five-year, $200-million commitment to restore free-flowing waters, remove barriers to fish migration and protect communities from flooding. The funding is provided under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announces $35 million for national fish passage projects at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Boise, Idaho on April 21. Photo: Margaret Bauman.

Interior officials said the money also is part of more than $3 billion being set aside for fish passage and aquatic connectivity projects. The spending includes funds from both the infrastructure law and Inflation Reduction Act.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said the infrastructure law provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in the nation’s rivers and streams, while also supporting aquatic species.

Haaland spoke at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Boise, Idaho.

Each of the 39 funded projects was developed collaboratively by local partners and selected through a competitive process led by an interdisciplinary panel. Members included representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and National Marine Fisheries Service.

The Alaska projects include: $1.4 million for Deep Creek watershed fish passage improvements on the Kenai Peninsula; $525,000 for making progress toward a barrier-free Copper River; $780,000 toward restoring access to Tyonek Creek over a 10-year period; $630,000 for a Metlakatla Indian Community fish passage project at Prince of Wales Island; $491,000 for a Yakutat Forest Aquatic Organism Passage in Yakutat, and $262,500 for subsistence salmon habitat restoration on the Kenai Peninsula.

Two California projects include the Waukell and Junior Creeks culvert replacement at Del Nortel for $2 million and Dye Creek Fish Passage Improvement Project at Tehama, $2.66 million.

The five Oregon projects include: Quachita Forest Fords in McCurtain, $1 million; low-head dam removal on Long Tom River at Monroe, $740,000; Phase 2 of Ochoco Preserve Restoration, at Crook, $400,000; Salamander Parcel Floodplain Reconnection at Douglas, $200,000, and the Perkins Creek Culvert Replacement at Lane, $699,061.

The two Washington projects are the Tidal Fish Barrier and Estuary Habitat Restoration, $1.05 million and the Lower Toppenish Creek Fish Passage Restoration at Yakima, $1.62 million.