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For more information on habitat issues, please contact the
WDFW Habitat Program.
habitatprogram@dfw.wa.gov
Phone: 360-902-2534

For more information on WDFW managed lands including wildlife areas, please contact the
WDFW Wildlife Program.
wildthing@dfw.wa.gov
Phone: 360-902-2515

 

Overview

Correcting fish barriers are vital to salmon recovery
Click on photo to enlarge
Carcasses of coho salmon blocked by a barrier culvert

Barriers to fish passage, in the form of road culverts, dams, dikes, and other obstructions, reduces the distribution and habitat available to fish, including salmon and steelhead. In particular, the inability of fish to access upstream spawning and rearing areas results in decreased production and in some cases can eliminate fish populations altogether.

Two of the most vital salmon recovery tools include the correction of human-made fish passage barriers and fish protection through properly screening surface water diversions. During the past two decades, numerous fish passage barriers have been fixed through salmon restoration funds. However, fish barriers are still a big problem and are an important component to restoring salmonid habitat. WDFW estimates that there are still roughly 30,000 barriers statewide to correct.

Fish passage improvement projects benefit fish and people

Undersized culverts and bridges also contribute to flood damage, threaten public safety and drain funds for emergency repairs.  Washington is among the most flood-prone of Western states, suffering flood-related damage that averaged $57 million each year from 2007 through 2011.

Well-designed culvert and bridge replacement projects have multiple benefits for fish and people:  they improve fish migration, reduce flood risks and emergency repair costs, and support jobs in local communities across the state.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) works with other public agencies, private landowners, local governments and non-profit community groups to locate fish passage barriers and identify the highest priority projects to ensure that limited funds are well-spent.