$70 million available to protect fish, aquatic animal habitat

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is making $70 million available for projects that improve fish and other aquatic wildlife’s ability to move freely.

The funds will be administered through the service’s National Fish Passage Program (NFPP), which works voluntarily with local communities to restore rivers and to conserve aquatic resources by removing or bypassing in-stream barriers. The grants are part of a broader $2 billion, five-year initiative to restore aquatic ecosystems funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

Specifically, the NFPP prioritizes projects that:  

  • Maximize benefits to priority species and habitats.
  • Provide sustainable fish passage.
  • Leverage regional or watershed priorities for habitat restoration, fish passage or aquatic connectivity.
  • Support or engage with disadvantaged communities.

Funds will be distributed through competitive contracts, Tribal grants and cooperative agreements. The deadline to submit a letter of intent is Dec. 31, 2024.

Projects that received NFPP grants for fiscal years 2024 and 25 include the Cherry Creek Fish Passage, in Colorado’s La Plata watershed. This project will remove a 60-foot galvanized steel culvert that currently blocks fish from moving up Cherry Creek, replacing it with a bottomless structure that allows fish of all species and age classes to pass.

It will also open approximately 15-20 miles of habitat in the La Plata River watershed. In addition, the project will reduce flood risk for local communities.

Photo courtesy of the Fish and Wildlife Service

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