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 Deteriorating culverts, outdated bridges, and other barriers block fish passage and undermine the state's recovery efforts.
Correcting fish barriers is vital to salmon recovery
When fish can not spawn upstream or reach traditional rearing areas, populations decrease and may not survive locally.
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 (such as irrigation channels and other exit ramps from the fish’s traditional path to their spawning beds).
Over recent decades, numerous fish passage barriers have been fixed through salmon restoration funds. However, fish barriers are still a major problem and are an important component to restoring salmon habitat.
How fish passage improvement benefits 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.
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.
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.
Removing fish passage barriers is a key part of our strategy to restore salmon and steelhead to Washington State and the greater Pacific Northwest.
Sharing fish passage data
The department maintains a database of fish passage information -- culverts and other potential fish passage barriers as well as habitat data -- for use in planning fish passage and habitat restoration projects. Data is submitted by WDFW staff, other agencies, and partner organizations.
The WDFW Fish Passage Web App allows you to view and interact with this up-to-date data. You can also submit data edits, new site information, and known barrier corrections.
- Explore the WDFW Fish Passage Web App.
How WDFW can help you
- Learn more about fish passage services and fish screening services.
- Learn about the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board.
- Water Crossing Design Guidelines.
- Fish Passage Inventory, Assessment, and Prioritization Manual.
- View the following training video on how to complete a "level A" culvert barrier analysis:
General questions about the Fish Passage Program
Thomas Jameson, Program Manager
Fish passage engineering and design
Don Ponder, PE, Engineering Manager
Fish screening and irrigation diversions
Daniel Didricksen, Fish Screening Section Manager
Natural resources conservation service salmon recovery
Chris Dwight, Fish Passage Biologist
Barrier inventory and assessment
Christy Rains, Inventory Section Manager
Fish passage training
Dan Barrett, Fish Passage Training Program Lead