How does the fish cross the road? We’ve got a program that might help

Before (left) and after photos show how a culvert replacement in Whatcom County opened up this tributary to Kendall Creek to more fish. Photo: DNR/DFW/RCO/Project Sponsors
Before (left) and after photos show how a culvert replacement in Whatcom County opened up this tributary to Kendall Creek to more fish. Photo: DNR/DFW/RCO/Project Sponsors

Do you have roads with stream crossings on your forestland? The DNR Family Forest Fish Passage Program wants you to know there is funding available to correct your fish barrier.

Many miles of stream in Washington State are inaccessible to fish because of barrier culverts or other in stream structures. The program’s goal is to help restore declining salmon and trout populations by replacing culverts with new structures that allow fish to migrate upstream and gain access to quality habitat.

Since the program began in 2003, 232 fish barriers, usually road culverts, have been eliminated on non-industrial timberland, returning some 500 miles of stream habitat to migrating salmon and trout. The opportunity to get help with removing these barriers has been popular with many landowners. (Stop by DNR’s Facebok page to see what satisfied forestland owners are saying about the program.)   

The state Legislature included $10 million for the program when it passed a $1 billion construction jobs bill in 2012. DNR is working with Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Recreation and Conservation Office, and a host of project sponsors—including tribes, salmon enhancement groups and conservation districts—to complete nearly 100 projects statewide in the next two construction seasons.

Even if you’re not sure if your culvert is a barrier to fish, you can apply to the program and have it evaluated. By signing up for Family Forest Fish Passage Program(FFFPP) a landowner can have their culvert or other in-stream structure evaluated for eligibility.

Rick Kuykendall, DNR’s FFFPP specialist, says “most people think this program is just too good to be true, but the Legislature recognizes the onerous cost of replacing this kind of structure without financial assistance, and that allow us to step in and help.”

This program is working statewide to continue to correct these barriers. To watch a video and learn more about the program visit: www.dnr.wa.gov/fffpp.

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