Restoring fish passage

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 Deteriorating culverts, outdated bridges, and other barriers block fish passage and undermine the state's recovery efforts.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.

How we can help you


General questions about the Fish Passage Program

Thomas Jameson, Program Manager

Fish passage engineering and design

Corey Morss, PE, Engineering Manager

Fish screening and irrigation diversions

Fish Screening Team

Natural resources conservation service salmon recovery

Melissa Erkel, Fish Passage Biologist

Barrier inventory and assessment

Kaylee Kautz, Inventory Section Manager


Fish passage training

Samuel Harris, Fish Passage Training Program Coordinator