Projects will be part of five-year, $200 million ‘Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’ investment to restore aquatic ecosystems
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing the availability of $38 million in funding from the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law” for fish passage projects across the nation that address outdated, unsafe or obsolete dams, culverts, levees and other barriers “fragmenting” the nation’s rivers and streams.
In 2022, the service’s National Fish Passage Program provided an initial $38 million “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law” investment to fund 40 projects in 23 states and Puerto Rico, which the service said, “brought big wins for fish passage and local communities. These funds build on the nearly $2 billion in funding for fish passage projects under the ‘Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’ across the departments of the Interior, Transportation, Agriculture, and Commerce.”
The program – in partnership with complementary programs at the Federal Highway Administration and NOAA Fisheries – is now looking to identify projects and partners for the next round of funding.
“From Alaska to Maine, jackhammers and backhoes are removing dams and replacing culverts to restore free-flowing rivers, reduce flood risks and address threats from climate change,” Service Director Martha Williams said. “With $38 million in additional ‘Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’ funding for fish passage projects, the service will continue our momentum by collaborating with Tribes, state and local agencies, non-governmental organizations and conservation partners to reconnect aquatic systems, improve fish migration, and restore aquatic infrastructure resilience in these fragile habitats.”
The National Fish Passage Program prioritizes projects that will:
√ Maximize benefits to priority species and habitats;
√ Provide sustainable fish passage;
√ Leverage regional or watershed priorities for habitat restoration, fish passage, or aquatic connectivity;
√ Enhance community resilience to climate change, address public safety hazards and provide other benefits such as job creation or recreational fishing opportunities;
√ Support or engage with underserved and indigenous communities; and
√ Be supported by partners, affected stakeholders, and the local community
Interested parties should submit a letter of intent to the appropriate National Fish Passage Program regional coordinator, via email, by Dec. 16, 2022. Letters of Intent should include basic project information and a statement of interest. More information, including a list of National Fish Passage regional coordinators, may be found at Grants.Gov or by visiting the program’s informational website.
A press release said, “The National Fish Passage Program, facilitated by the Service’s Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program, has decades of proven experience implementing infrastructure projects with partners to improve the health of the nation’s waterways, reconnect rivers, improve climate resilience and enhance local economies. The program provides financial, technical and planning assistance to Tribes, communities, other agencies and landowners to help remove barriers and restore rivers for the benefit of fish and people.
“In the Northeast region, aquatic connectivity remains a top priority for the service. 2022 projects focused on building more resilient habitats and natural systems through dam removals, road-stream crossing improvements, and tidal reconnections.”
In 2022, projects:
√ Addressed 43 fish passage barriers, reopening over 243 miles of stream habitat and 8,315 acres of wetlands, and providing $206 million in socioeconomic benefits.
√ Secured $5.15 million through the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law” to initiate six fish passage projects.
Since 1999, the National Fish Passage program has worked with over 2,000 local communities, states, Tribes and private landowners to remove or bypass 3,400 barriers to fish passage, and has reopened access to more than 60,000 miles of upstream habitat for fish and other animals.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit fws.gov/northeast.