Oral Presentation International Conference on River Connectivity (Fish Passage 2018)

The Alaska model of fish passage policy (#65)

William J Rice 1
  1. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Lakewood, CO, United States

Since Alaska was a territory, safeguarding fish migration has been recognized both in state statutes as early as 1959 and in development of policy at local and interdepartmental levels. Implementation of these statutes over the years has resulted in relatively few dams or diversions on Alaskan fish-bearing waters with most of the policy emphasis in refining fish passage across road crossings, particularly culvert installations. Policy was supported by pioneering work in fish passage research, assessment and culvert design, so much so that it formed the basis of modern approaches to fish passage at road crossings across the nation. Collaborative efforts by Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT) and Tongass National Forest lead the way in development of state policy for road crossings. Over the past two decades, various agency practitioners, working with federal and local governments further refined policy into various design guidance and criteria. The creation of a Memorandum of Agreement between ADFG and ADOT in 2001 formed basic fish passage criteria statewide at road crossings and set the stage for local municipal development ordinances. In the early 2000’s, some local governments, battered by a series of flood events, implemented improved road crossing ordinances and criteria that improved both flood conveyance and fish passage. These local efforts have resulted in some of the most robust criteria in the nation. The Alaska model of statutes, policy, local ordinances and criteria show how we can prevent the spread of barriers across the landscape yet continue to develop into the future.