A Brief Overview
In this fish passage folio (pdf 3.66 mb), we provide WSDOT’s response to the March, 2013 court injunction that requires the state to significantly increase the effort to remove state-owned culverts that block habitat for salmon and steelhead. More detailed information about the Fish Passage Program is provided below.
Highways as Barriers to Fish Passage
WSDOT recognizes that many existing highway culverts are barriers to fish passage and were installed years before we understood and recognized the needs of fish. The Department is committed to fixing its fish barrier culverts and does so using a three pronged approach. First, WSDOT fixes many culverts through the construction of highway mobility and safety projects. Second, WSDOT operates an Environmental Retrofit program that funds standalone fish barrier removal projects that targets correction of the highest priority culverts that would other wise not be fixed by a highway construction project anytime in the near future. And third, some limited work on fish passage barrier correction and repair is done as part of routine road maintenance or road preservation projects.
WSDOT is required to install and maintain all culverts, fishways, and bridges to provide unrestricted fish passage as per Washington law, RCW 77.57.030. Design of fish barrier correction will be based on the latest version of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) Water Crossing Design Guidelines manual or its successor. Through use of this design guidance and in coordination with WDFW, it is expected that new highway construction at stream crossings will not result in additional barriers to fish passage.
Working with Others to Identify Potential Projects
WSDOT and WDFW formed a cooperative program in 1991 to inventory and assess WSDOT fish passage barriers statewide. WSDOT uses funds from its Highway Construction Program to contract with WDFW to inventory and prioritize for correction fish passage barriers at state highway crossings. WDFW identifies WSDOT culverts that are barriers to fish passage, assesses and quantifies the habitat upstream of each barrier and prioritizes barriers. This prioritization is used for the stand alone culvert retrofit program and does not apply to culverts fixed as part of highway construction projects. WSDOT and WDFW coordinate on the identification, scoping, design and construction of barrier correction projects. WDFW also evaluates and monitors the post construction effectiveness of all WSDOT fish barrier correction projects. Information on WSDOT culvert barriers is published annually (see below) by WDFW in the "WSDOT Fish Passage Inventory Progress and Performance Report."
WSDOT works closely with our regional offices to pre-scope fish passage barriers for dedicated Improvement program (I-4 program) fish passage projects. We also look at safety and mobility projects that may have a fish passage project as part of the larger project.
Fish Passage Reports