FWS report: fish passage program improves U.S. rivers’ flows
More than 200 blockages in the nation’s major natural resource “arteries” were removed last year thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) National Fish Passage Program, according to the service. Working with numerous partners, the program improves fish passage, local economies and public safety by removing derelict dams that no longer serve a purpose.
“Free-flowing, healthy rivers and streams are vital to our nation. Many species of fish, wildlife and plants depend on the natural ebb and flow of rivers at critical stages of their lives,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “I’m pleased to report last year the service and its partners reconnected more than 2,500 miles of streams and 36,000 associated wetland acres, providing opportunities for aquatic populations to increase and become more resilient in the face of greater environmental pressures.”
Estimates show there are approximately 74,000 derelict dams and millions of other manmade river impediments in the United States, according to FWS. These structures impede upstream and downstream passage for native fish, destroy or eliminate access to key spawning habitat, and degrade water quality by preventing normal stream flow that cleanses river systems. In addition, if aging dams fail, they can threaten human safety in downstream communities.
The 2012 National Fish Passage Program Annual Report illustrates many collaborative accomplishments, from Alaska to the southeast United States, according to FWS. Last year, projects were completed in more than 40 states in cooperation with approximately 300 partners across the nation. Projects included fish passage barrier removals, engineering, planning and partnership coordination, monitoring and evaluation, and barrier inventories.