Why it matters: The fragmentation of river and stream habitats through dams and poorly designed culverts is one of the primary threats to aquatic species, particularly fish, in the United States. The implementation of the funding provided to the National Fish Passage Program through the IIJA represents a significant step forward to conserving and enhancing fish populations by helping restore their ability to move freely throughout streams and rivers.
On April 14, the Department of the Interior announced $38 million in funding to help restore and enhance aquatic organism habitat connectivity through the National Fish Passage Program.
Specifically, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided $200 million in investments to the National Fish Passage Program, a long standing priority for CSF, which is now being swiftly implemented by the Department of the Interior. Since 1999, the National Fish Passage Program has coordinated with over 2,000 localities, states, tribes, and private landowners to remove or improve 3,202 barriers to fish passage and has helped reopen more than 57,000 miles of upstream habitat to improve and restore fish movements through watersheds.
The ability for fish and other aquatic organisms to freely move within a stream or river basin is important to long-term population sustainability. Fish move to reproduce, feed, and in search of habitat as seasons change. For example, eastern brook trout often migrate from larger, more open waters in the winter months to smaller, heavily shaded streams that provide a thermal refuge in the warmer summer months. Dams, culverts, and other barriers across the country often restrict or block fish migration, which can constrain population abundance. Fortunately, this issue will be addressed, in part, through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as a result of efforts by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, to secure robust investments to benefit sportsmen and women.
CSF applauds the Department of the Interior for moving quickly to implement the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. CSF will continue to work with the Administration to help guide the implementation of the National Fish Passage Program and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?