Interior Department Announces $35M for National Fish Passage Projects

Image: U.S. Department of the Interior.

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California, Oregon and Washington are among 22 states sharing in a new $35 million federal investment to address outdated or obsolete dams, culverts, levees and other barriers to fish in the nation’s rivers and streams.

The Interior Department announcement of Friday, April 21 is being funded under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It 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 rivers and streams.

Interior officials said it’s also part of an over $3 billion investment in fish passage and aquatic connectivity projects under the Investing in America agency, which includes funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in the nation’s rivers, streams and communities and help restore habitat connectivity for aquatic species around the country.

Haaland spoke to the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Boise, Idaho.  Dams built in the western United States over the past 100 years to provide power for growing communities have made it difficult for salmon to return to their natal streams to spawn, resulting in a decline of salmon that people and wildlife, including marine mammals and birds, depend on for sustenance.

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

The projects include five in Alaska: $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 Highway 10 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, $2,662,800.

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, $1,050,000; and the Lower Toppenish Creek Fish Passage Restoration at Yakima, $1,615,400.