Marsh - Anadromous Fish Habitat
Anadromous Fish Habitat
Site Selection | Goals
& Objectives | Baseline Data | Funding
Within a particular geographic region, or river system, there may
be a large number of potential dams or impediments to be considered
for removal. Project proponents or stakeholders should conduct a
comprehensive inventory of potential impediments for consideration.
Evaluation of site-specific factors (e.g., ecological,
land-use, ownership, construction costs, etc.) would result in a
prioritization or ranking of potential projects to be considered
Upon selection of a dam or other impediment to be removed or modified,
several initial planning tasks should be conducted (Connecticut
River Watershed Council, Inc. 2000):
- Document the presence of anadromous fish.
- Document the presence of suitable habitat upstream of the barrier,
dredging, channelization, or siltation may have altered upstream
- Determine whether dam removal is possible (as an alternative
to fishways). Often, recreation or infrastructure prohibits dam
removal or partial breaching.
- Determine dam ownership (private vs. municipal or state).
An Anadromous Fish Run Site Selection
Tool has been developed for Rhode Island through a partnership
of the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), Department of Environmental
Management (DEM), Save The Bay, and the NOAA Coastal Services Center.
Fisheries biologists and restoration practitioners from various
organizations throughout the state combined expertise to develop
the model. Inputs include population density, land use, public access,
dam ownership, upstream habitat, and water quality. This site selection
tool is anticipated to be a valuable aid in the project screening
and prioritization process.
Goals and Objectives
It is important to determine the goals and objectives of a fish
run restoration project at the outset. Fish run restoration projects,
which lack clearly defined goals and objectives, are less likely
to achieve success. In many cases, it may be impossible to gauge
success in the absence of a clearly defined project plan. Project
goals refer to the ecosystem attributes to be restored, such as
water quality, hydrology, stream channel morphology, and stream
or river biota. Project objectives are more precise, and may include
the specific characteristics of water quality, hydrology, channel
morphology and the size, age class, or species composition of the
fish run(s) to be restored. Performance indicators are developed
during the life of the project and represent measurable characteristics.
For example, the number of juvenile river herring which are recruiting
to the adult population, or the number of adults observed passing
through a newly breached dam or moving into a fishway may be used as performance indicators (Pastorok
et al. 1997).
Baseline Data Collection
Detailed site characterizations are needed to formulate site-specific
restoration plans and to develop success criteria for individual
projects. Examples of baseline data which are collected during pre-restoration
baseline surveys of anadromous fish run projects may include:
- Size and age class distribution of the target species to be restored
upstream (if present) and downstream of the impediment
- Current flow in upstream and downstream portions of the study
- Water quality conditions in upstream and downstream portions
of the study area (e.g., temperature, salinity, pH, turbidity,
- An assessment of stream channel morphology, depth, and sediment/stream
bed characteristics (including the presence of contaminated sediments)
upstream and downstream of the impediment
- A survey of spawning habitats upstream of the impediment
- A survey to identify other species which may be affected by
the proposed restoration activities, both upstream and downstream
of the impediment
Fisheries biologists can monitor downstream migration of juveniles
using nets and hydroacoustics technology, and are able to provide
information on movements, estimates of population size, and size
class distribution. Additional survey techniques include radio tagging
of adult herring to track movements and residence time in a particular
habitat, and mark and recapture studies to track fish movements
over extended (multi-year) time periods.
The DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife is currently using electronic
fish counters at Gilbert Stuart's Birthplace, one of the few remaining
herring runs in Rhode Island. Data collected from that fish run
will be used as a reference for the restoration of other runs in
the state (Gilbert Stuart Museum 2002).
The costs of restoration are largely dependent on site-specific conditions and the types of restoration and monitoring activities planned for a project (see Cost Analysis for details). Several federal and state agencies provide funding for anadromous
fish run restoration. For example, the NOAA Damage Assessment and Restoration
Program provides funds for habitat restoration in areas that have
experienced environmental degradation as a result of oil spills
and other ecological disasters; and the R.I. Corporate Wetlands Restoration
Partnership combines corporate contributions with federal and state
matching funds to restore degraded wetlands. The Anadromous Fish
Conservation Act provides funding for fish run restoration projects.
This program is jointly administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
A comprehensive list of funding opportunities for anadromous fish
run restoration in Rhode Island is available from this site in the
Funding Opportunities section.
Permitting and Regulatory Considerations
Agencies, NGOs, or individuals proposing the restoration of
anadromous fish runs in Rhode Island must secure a variety of permits
prior to construction of the project. A DEM freshwater wetlands
permit or CRMC permit may be required, depending on the jurisdiction
within which the proposed project is located. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Clean Water
Act section 404 permit may also be required.
Specific information on the permitting process, CRMC and USACE
permit applications, and contact information for all permitting
agencies is available in the Permitting
Process section of this site.
Return to Top
Connecticut River Watershed Council, Inc. 2000. A fishway for
your stream: providing fish passage around dams in the Northeast.
The Connecticut River Watershed Council, Inc., Easthampton, Massachusetts.
to order copies of this publication.
Gilbert Stuart Museum. 2002. "River Herring Restoration" Web page (http://www.gilbertstuartmuseum.com/riverherringpage.htm). Saunderstown, Rhode Island.
Pastorok, R.A., A. MacDonald, J.R. Sampson, P. Wilber, D.J. Yozzo,
and J.P. Titre. 1997. An ecological decision framework for environmental
restoration projects. Ecological Engineering 9:89-107.
Return to Top
This site was created through a partnership
Coastal Resources Management Council
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
Save The Bay®