Fish Passage Program Restores Habitat in Alaska

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Wasilla Creek Tributary at Crabb Circle, Mat-Su Basin, AlaskaThis year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?s National Fish Passage Program provided nearly $8.3 million to remove or bypass more than 168 barriers to fish passage. Along with nearly $18 million in partnership funds, the Fish Passage Program will help reopen 1,716 miles of streams and rivers and 9,471 acres to improve habitats for recreational fish and imperiled aquatic species.

While many waterways in Alaska don?t face the level of fish-passage challenges common in more intensively developed areas of the United States, the National Fish Passage Program continues to open new habitat to valuable fish species here, as well.

An upcoming project supported by the Program will involve the removal of a culvert on Little Campbell Creek in Anchorage, Alaska. Little Campbell Creek is an important tributary to Campbell Creek, providing areas of quality resident and anadromous fish-rearing habitat. A 400-foot section of the South Fork of Little Campbell Creek currently flows through an undersized culvert under the D&S Concrete property, restricting the passage of fish and reducing habitat quantity and quality. $107,143 in Service funding and $1,280,000 in partner funds will support this project, which will ?daylight? the creek by removing the underground pipe and constructing a new stream channel and floodplain, thus restoring access to valuable fish habitat in this urban trout and salmon stream.

Other funded projects in Alaska include:

  • Emmonak Slough Culvert Replacement, Yukon Delta, Alaska: The project will use $142,857 in Service funding and $304,000 in partner funds to restore passage on Emmonak Slough. This slough system provides protective and rearing habitat between rich feeding grounds of the Bering Sea and in the Yukon River. The project will reopen 10 miles this of historic rearing habitat for Chinook, coho, chum, sockeye, pink salmon and whitefish.
  • Fish Passage restoration on Wasilla Creek Tributary at Crabb Circle, Mat-Su Basin, Alaska: This project will make use of $21,429 in Service funding and $45,000 in matching funds to remove a perched culvert on a tributary of Wasilla Creek in order to restore juvenile salmon?s access to important wetland rearing-complexes that surround the stream channel. This will provide unrestricted fish passage into one mile of important rearing habitat along Wasilla Creek, providing significant habitat for salmon, rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden. Wasilla Creek is known for its runs of coho and chinook salmon.
  • Chena Slough Fish Passage Restoration at Nordale Road in Fairbanks, Alaska: Some $142,857 in Service funding and $362,000 in partner funding will be used to remove a barrier and restore access to more than two miles of stream habitat for grayling, multiple species of whitefish, and other fish species.
  • Two Moose Creek on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska: Supported by $42,857 in Service funding, the project sill restore access to nine miles of stream habitat for steelhead, Coho and sockeye salmon.

The widespread challenges to fish passage have resulted from the construction of millions of culverts, dikes, water diversions, dams and other artificial barriers that impound and redirect water for irrigation, flood control, electricity, drinking water, and transportation ? all changing natural features of rivers and streams. As the Service?s understanding of the response of fisheries to these barriers has grown, efforts have begun to reverse the negative impacts they?ve had on our fish and environment. The Fish Passage Program uses a voluntary, non-regulatory approach to work with municipal, state, tribal and federal agencies, as well as non-governmental agencies to reopen and improve aquatic habitats in the nation?s streams and rivers. The program provides funding and technical expertise to partners to remove or bypass dams and other obstructions and replace or improve culverts under roads or railroad tracks ? all to allow fish to swim through. The goal of the program is to restore native fish and other aquatic species to self-sustaining levels by reconnecting habitat that has been fragmented by barriers.

Since its inception in 1999, the National Fish Passage Program has removed or bypassed 655 such barriers, restoring access to almost 10,612 miles of river and 51,361 acres of wetlands. The Program has also been able to leverage an average of three dollars for every project dollar spent through its partners.

Click here for a complete list of funded 2008 projects:

For more information about the Fish Passage Program, visit our home page at:

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit