Restoration of fish passage through culvert barriers has emerged as a major issue in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide. The problem has many dimensions, including the huge number of potential barriers, uncertainty about which structures are actually barriers, the benefits and risks involved with restoration, and the financial costs and timelines. This report attempts to address what we call 'thinking outside of the pipe' in terms of fish passage information needs. This means understanding the value of each potential passage restoration project in the context of other possible projects, and to view individual restoration projects within a larger landscape of habitats and population processes.
In this report we provide a brief review of some essential characteristics of animal movement and examples from a focal group of fishes in Washington State: salmon, trout, and char. While several other fishes and many other species use streams where culvert passage barriers may occur, it is the salmonids that are by far the most widespread and in most cases extending furthest into the headwaters of stream networks in Washington. We begin this report by outlining some basic characteristics of animal movement and then apply that foundation to the case of salmonid fishes. Next we consider the consequences of disrupting fish movement with human-constructed barriers, such as culverts. Finally, this body of evidence is summarized and we propose a short list of what we view as high priority information needs to support more effective restoration of fish passage through culverts.
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USGS Numbered Series
Fish Movement Ecology in High Gradient Headwater Streams: Its Relevance to Fish Passage Restoration through Stream Culvert Barriers