Fish and Aquatic Conservation
A free-flowing river is largely unaffected by human-made changes to its flow and connectivity. Photo credit: Public Domain

National Fish Passage Program

Since 1999, the FWS National Fish Passage Program has:

  • Removed or bypassed 3,202 barriers to fish passage
  • Reopened access to 57,736 miles of upstream habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms
  • Reopened access to 193,783 acres of wetland habitat for fish and other animals
  • Worked with over 2,000 partners across the country

Rivers and waterways provide a vast array of resources to communities, supplying us with water, power, and food. They are a source of recreational enjoyment and commerce, and are a prime gathering point for people in both urban and rural areas. With all the uses and demands on rivers and waterways, and resulting development of instream infrastructure, our rivers have become fragmented by millions of structures like dams, culverts, and levees. These instream barriers degrade aquatic habitat, create safety hazards, and lead to declines in fish populations.

The National Fish Passage Program works with local communities on a voluntary basis to restore rivers and conserve our nation’s aquatic resources by removing or bypassing barriers. Our projects benefit both fish and people. We work with communities to remove obsolete and dangerous dams, permanently eliminating public safety hazards and restoring river ecosystems. The program also works with transportation agencies and others to improve road stream crossings so that the streams can flow naturally beneath them. The resulting infrastructure is more resilient to flooding and benefits communities by saving money in long term repair and replacement costs. We collaborate with landowners to adapt water diversion systems so that the systems are efficient at retrieving and moving water as well as saving fish.

The program has benefited fish, wildlife, and people in numerous ways. Projects that restore fish passage develop community infrastructure resilience, rebuild fish populations and improve recreational and commercial fisheries, and restore the beauty of free flowing waters.

photo of pink salmon swimming in a stream

What is Fish Passage?

Removing barriers to reopen access to stream and wetland habitat, benefitting fish and people.

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photo of a culvert

Fish Passage Contacts and Resources

Additional fish passage resources and contact information for Service employees involved in the National Fish Passage Program.

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Photo of an Arctic grayling

Migratory Species

Whether they travel long distances or stay closer to home, all fish need to move.

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photo of Howland bypass after dam was removed

Working with the National Fish Passage Program

Fast facts about working with the National Fish Passage Program.

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