Three Oregon Fish Passage Projects Awarded $750,000 in Funding

Salmon SuperHwy
Three Oregon fish passage projects that are part of the state’s “Salmon SuperHwy” restoration initiative have each received a federal funding commitment. Image: Tillamook-Nestucca Fish Passage Partnership.

Three fish passage projects in Oregon’s Tillamook County have received a total of $750,000 in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds as part of a long-term effort to restore 95% of historic habitat connectivity for five types of Endangered Species Act-listed salmonids and Pacific lamprey.

The projects, part of the “Salmon SuperHwy” strategic effort, are also intended to reduce flooding and improve public safety in the flood-prone coastal community. The funding is through a $200 million package from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service for restoring fish and wildlife passage by removing in-stream barriers and providing technical assistance under the National Fish Passage Program.

The ‘Salmon SuperHwy’ is an effort to restore access to nearly 180 miles of blocked habitat throughout six major salmon and steelhead rivers of Oregon’s North Coast.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore, called the funding an excellent example of how fish and wildlife recovery directly benefit local communities.

“The health of Tillamook’s community goes hand-in-hand with the health of the port, fish habitats, and infrastructure conditions,” Merkley said. “The three projects funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support climate-resilient infrastructure and reconnect fish habitats.”

“The ‘Salmon SuperHwy’ is a proven method for tackling depleted salmon and steelhead stocks while investing in rural economies,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, who announced the funds with Merkley in mid-April. “It’s abundantly clear that Oregonians believe strongly in results-driven solutions to addressing dwindling salmon populations and investing in the ‘Salmon SuperHwy’ is a clear win for the health of both fish habitats and coastal communities.”

Tillamook County Public Works Director Chris Laity said the county is “ extremely grateful” to the Department of the Interior for selecting the three projects.

“As a member of the ‘Salmon SuperHwy,’ we fully support finding innovative solutions to removing fish barriers while improving the transportation infrastructure,” he said. “Completing these projects removes not only a fish passage barriers, but they also replace failing culverts on roads that provide the only access to critical areas subsequently improving emergency vehicle response time.”