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U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the Department's Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration opened applications for Tribal, state, and local governments to help remove and repair culverts that restrict fish passage.
There is $1 billion available over five years from the new National Culvert Removal, Replacement, and Restoration-Culvert Aquatic Organism Passage Program founded by President Joe Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, according to an Oct. 6 news release.
“With this investment, we’re helping protect local economies that count on healthy fisheries and also make key roads less prone to flooding," Buttigieg said in the release.
"Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this first-in-its-kind effort will begin to address the longstanding challenges posed by existing culverts for fishing and Tribal communities, from the Pacific Northwest to the low-lying communities in the Southeast.”
Freshwater migration barriers are a primary cause of declining anadromous fish populations, as they mainly live in the ocean but return to freshwater streams to spawn, the release reported. The grant program will help to remove or redesign culverts and weirs that create such barriers, allowing anadromous fish populations which require freshwater habitats – such as salmon, sturgeon, lamprey, shad, and river herring – to spawn.
“Many Tribal and underserved coastal communities depend on thriving fish populations for their livelihoods, and this program, which will remove, replace and repair harmful culverts, will improve the natural environment and the economic wellbeing of Tribal, coastal and low-lying communities,” Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said in the release. “Grants will both help restore fish populations and make roads more durable and resilient to climate events, creating cascading benefits for communities that rely on the fisheries economy.”