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USFWS Unveils Fish Passage
Decision Support System

by CBB Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - June 20, 2003

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their partners on Monday unveiled the first national database that provides a comprehensive inventory of barriers to fish passage and will make it available online to managers throughout the United States who are involved in resource planning and habitat restoration.

"This is a real benchmark for people involved in fisheries work and anglers throughout our country," said Steve Williams, Fish and Wildlife Service director. "There are thousands of small barriers that we've accumulated through the decades that either no longer serve a purpose, or are badly in need of repair. We're very proud to be a part of this effort."

Known formally as the Fish Passage Decision Support System, the database, available online at, provides barrier information such as location, type, size, name of the owner, passage capability, fish species affected and local habitat information, and includes all barriers that prevent or inhibit fish or other aquatic species from reaching historic habitat or spawning grounds.

"This system will also be a living database," said Dr. Mamie Parker, assistant director for Fisheries and Habitat Conservation. "With just a few clicks of the mouse, the user can quickly see what kind of stream mileage can be made available. There will be constant updates of information. It's a user-friendly system, and one we are very excited about."

The Service's Fish Passage Program, initiated in 1999, works with a huge range of federal, state, local and civic agencies and organizations, to restore fish and other aquatic species by reopening habitat that has become fragmented by artificial barriers. There are an estimated 75,000 dams greater than 6 feet in height and 2.5 million smaller fish passage barriers throughout the United States. Partners in the Fish Passage Program contribute matching funds to the government's share, providing a huge stretch for taxpayer dollars.

The Fish Passage Decision Support System database currently includes the Army Corps of Engineers' National Inventory of Dams, state dam databases from North Carolina and Tennessee and a list of barriers compiled in the Pacific States Marine Fishery Commission's StreamNet database. Service biologists are also entering data from recent inventory projects and new data on dams, culverts, dikes and irrigation diversions from a number of cooperating agencies and organizations will be added to the system on a continuing basis.

CBB Staff
USFWS Unveils Fish Passage Decision Support System
Columbia Basin Bulletin, June 20, 2003

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