FAMILY FOREST FISH PASSAGE PROGRAM

Message from Tami Miketa, Manager of the Small Forest Landowner Office

Do you think you have a fish blockage on your forestland? Then we have a deal for you! DNR’s Family Forest Fish Passage program is looking for high-quality projects to restore fish access to upstream habitat.

chumspawn
Chum spawning. Photo: M. Esteve

Small forest landowners own 3.2 million acres of Washington’s forests, about half the private forestland in the state. Those lands include thousands of miles of fish-bearing streams. A single barrier on a stream can keep fish from reaching miles of upstream habitat.

Removing fish barriers is one of the keys to recovering salmon and to protecting public resources. But removing fish barriers can be costly, especially for small forest landowners. In 2003 the state Legislature passed House Bill 1095 which created the Family Forest Fish Passage Program. This is a cost-share program for small forest landowners that provides 75 to 100 percent of the cost of correcting a fish barrier and only requires landowners enrolled in the program to fix their barriers if and when financial assistance is available from the state. So, by enrolling in the program, you’re only required to remove the fish barrier on your road crossing when cost-share funding is available.

This program is a collaborative effort between three state agencies: the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO). The DNR is the primary contact for general questions and applications; the WDFW handles site assessments and answers your fish habitat and stream related questions; and the RCO manages the grant funding process.

How does the program work?

  1. Site Visit. After you apply to the program, we contact you to make an appointment to inspect your barrier. This includes an assessment by WDFW of  the quality of the stream’s fish habitat and whether your road crossing structure is the cause of the fish blockage. If your structure is not blocking fish passage, no further action will be taken and you won’t be enrolled in the program. If your structure is blocking, you’ll be enrolled, and the WDFW will prioritize your project.
  2. Project Prioritization. The WDFW determines the priority of all applications based on a number of factors including the amount of fish habitat made accessible, the quality of the habitat, the presence of other fish blocking barriers, the number and type of fish species using the stream, the cost of correcting the barrier, and support of local fish enhancement groups.
  3. Correction Options and Cost Estimate. If your project is determined to be a high priority, we’ll develop options for eliminating the barrier. Your project will be placed in a final prioritized list of projects based on the options and cost estimates.
  4. Project Funding. The DNR uses the prioritized list to determine which projects will be funded with the currently available monies and will notify the enrollees selected. If your project is not selected for funding, it will be automatically be put on the list for the next funding cycle. If you believe your project needs to be addressed immediately, please contact the Small Forest Landowner Office and we’ll help you identify other funding sources.
  5. Project Sponsor. Once your project is funded, a project sponsor will be assigned to handle permitting and project design, hiring contractors, and managing the funding process with the RCO.
  6. Matching Contribution. If you’ve harvested timber within three years of when your project is selected for funding, you may be required to match 25 percent of project costs through either in-kind services or payment in dollars. However, if you have not harvested within the three years prior to the project being approved for funding, or if the barrier was installed with a permit (e.g., Forest Practices Application or Hydraulic Project Approval), the State will pay the entire cost of the project.

Watch our video and see what landowners think about FFFPP by clicking here.

If you have any questions about the Family Forest Fish Passage Program, please feel free to call Laurie Cox at: 360-902-1404 or e-mail her at: laurie.cox@dnr.wa.gov.