Biden admin directs $240 million to fish passage projects

May 23, 2024

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced $240 million for new fish passage projects across America. The funding will go toward a variety of fish passage types, including dam removal, fish ladders, culvert improvements, and in-stream fish passage improvements.

Nearly half the projects will be led by Tribes and Tribal organizations, and funding will support Tribes in their work to improve fish passage for cultural, spiritual, economic, subsistence, and recreational purposes. The effort also advances President Joe Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, a goal of ensuring 40 percent of the benefits of certain federal investments flow to underinvested communities, including all federally recognized Tribes.

Fish passage projects are vital to the health of Western communities. Outdated structures such as culverts and dams prevent fish and other aquatic and terrestrial species from following rivers and streams to reach upstream habitat. These structures also contribute to flooding and other hazards. Removing or replacing these barriers can greatly benefit fish populations, but unfortunately, these projects can be cost-prohibitive for small communities to plan, design, and implement on their own, making federal investments all the more important.

Melting permafrost causing colorful streams of contamination in the West and beyond

new study found that in the Colorado mountains, concentrations of zinc and copper have doubled over the past 30 years, with melting of previously frozen ground—known as permafrost—being a likely major cause. These contaminants can make their way into drinking water for mountain towns that get their water from small, high-elevation streams.

Another study released this week presents similar findings in Alaska, where melting permafrost is causing contaminants like iron and zinc to release into waterways, turning Alaskan rivers bright neon colors. In both studies, researchers point to increasing global temperatures as the main cause of permafrost melt.

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Quote of the day

The acceleration of climate change that this project will bring will affect what the land provides and brings to my culture.”

—Summer Sagoonick, member the Iñupiaq Tribe, The Guardian


Picture This

A gigantic black and white fin emerges from dark waters as a small puffin flies past, emphasizing the enormous scale of the whale.

High fives are a little challenging when your friend’s hand is 15 times the length of your entire body.

This brave puffin is flying beside the fin of a humpback whale in Kenai Fjords National Park. Humpbacks have a distinctive body shape and unusually long pectoral fins (flippers), which are nearly one-third of their total body length. Learn more about these enormous animals and their amazing lives in Alaskan waters:

Photo credit: NPS Photo / Kaitlin Thoresen
Photo description: A gigantic black and white fin emerges from dark waters as a small puffin flies past, emphasizing the enormous scale of the whale.


Featured image: An example of a channel-spanning culvert which allows species and floodwater to move more freely. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service