DNR’s fish barrier removal program

Culvert removal on Miller Creek
A contractor installs a 22-foot-span bottomless arch culvert over Miller Creek near Hoodsport. It replaces a 12-foot-wide culvert that blocked fish passage to habitat in the creek’s upper reaches. Photo: Jason Mettler/DNR.

Lack of access to good quality stream habitat has contributed to declines of salmon and trout populations in Washington State. In 2012, DNR removed 134 fish barriers from forest streams on state trust lands, opening an estimated 67 miles of stream to salmon and other fish. Since 2000, DNR has removed 1,184 fish barrier culverts associated with streams on state trust lands. Sometimes, they are replaced by bridges, but other fish-friendly structures include bottomless arch culverts.  

The department’s ongoing project has opened nearly 600 miles of stream for fish habitat. About 276 fish barrier culverts under forest roads on state trust lands remain for DNR to remove by October 31, 2016, when the state’s Forest and Fish Law requires landowners to complete improvements.

Many private forestland owners also are affected by the deadline. Because removing these blockages — usually culverts — and installing more fish-friendly structures isn’t cheap, DNR offers small forest landowners help to replace those barrier culverts. Since 2003, nearly 200 small forest landowners have taken advantage of funding from the legislatively funded Family Forest Fish Passage Program to replace 232 barriers and open more than 485 miles of stream for salmon and trout. But many have yet to apply for the state program—Family Forest Fish Passage Program—which pays nearly all of the costs for landowners

Watch a video about the Family Forest Fish Passage Program and learn how just applying to the program can help small forest landowners deal with regulatory burdens around the culvert removal requirements. The program is administered by DNR’s Small Forest Landowner Office.

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