The ability of salmon and steelhead to swim upstream to their traditional spawning grounds is vital to their recovery across Washington. Deteriorating culverts, outdated bridges, and other barriers block fish passage in many streams and undermine the state's recovery efforts.
WDFW leads the state in resolving fish passage barrier problems, and is an active partner in supporting the public, state and local agencies, and restoration groups with their efforts to locate, prioritize and fund fish passage barrier repairs across Washington State.
In 2018, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) estimated the number of transportation-related anadromous salmon and steelhead barriers throughout Washington State. The purpose of the assessment was to update and narrow the scope of the previously estimated 40,000 fish passage barriers, which was developed over 20 years ago and included barriers to all species (anadromous and non-anadromous).
Through an analysis of WDFW's fish passage inventory database and a GIS-based approach to identifying potential barriers at road and stream junctions, WDFW estimates there are at least 18,000 - 20,000 barriers to salmon and steelhead across Washington State. This estimate does not include barriers in resident-only waters (i.e., upstream of fully blocking natural barriers).
This estimate is assumed to be conservative due to limitations in available statewide fish distribution data. Learn more about the methods, assumptions, and limitations to this analysis.