The US Department of Transportation recently opened up applications for $1 billion in grant funding for removing and upgrading culverts.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recently announced that the Department’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in close coordination with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, has opened applications for Tribal, state, and local governments to access a total of $1 billion over five years from the new National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration-Culvert Aquatic Organism Passage Program. This grant program builds on the over $2 billion eligible to support fish passage and will specifically help communities remove and repair culverts found under roads that can prevent fish passage and are especially problematic for coastal and Tribal communities for whom thriving fish populations are critical to the regional economy and way of life.
Barriers to freshwater migration are a major cause of declining populations of anadromous fish, which live primarily in the ocean, but return to freshwater streams to spawn. The competitive Culvert Grant Program will help remove or redesign culverts and weirs that create such barriers, allowing anadromous fish populations – including salmon, sturgeon, lamprey, shad and river herring – which require access to freshwater habitats to spawn. Culverts and weirs are both engineered structures that impact the flow of water in rivers and streams. A weir allows for the controlled passage of water over a low-headed dam, while a culvert allows for the subterranean passage of water through a channel underneath an obstacle, such as a road.
In addition to improving anadromous fish passage, this program will also help make culverts and weirs more resilient to increased flooding events due to the impacts of climate change on weather and precipitation.