Department of the Interior

Office of the Secretary

Embargoed Until 11 a.m Saturday
April 22, 2006
Contact: Hugh Vickery, DOI
Ken Burton, FWS

Acting Secretary Scarlett Celebrates Earth Day
By Announcing Reopening Of Fish Passage On 811 Miles Of Waterways

(MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA) - Celebrating Earth Day at a long-abandoned dam site in Pennsylvania, Acting Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a variety of partners will spend more than $8 million this year to remove or bypass 98 barriers to fish passage in 26 states.

Scarlett unveiled the 2006 projects for the National Fish Passage Program at Pennypack Creek in southeastern Montgomery County, Pa. One of the projects is the removal of Huntingdon Pike Dam on the creek, part of a larger on-going restoration effort. When the restoration effort is completed, part or all of four small, long-abandoned dams and a bridge will be removed. Three fishways will be built, reopening 20 miles of habitat.

Administered by the Service's Fisheries Program, the popular Fish Passage Program enlists municipal, state, tribal and other federal agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations, to reopen historic habitat in the nation's streams and rivers by removing or bypassing abandoned dams or other obstructions as well as improving or replacing culverts under roads or railroad tracks. Partner participation is voluntary.

"From Alaska to Puerto Rico, we have worked with more than 166 partners to open historic spawning and rearing areas." said Scarlett. "Fragmented streams are being restored to free-flowing waterways, providing new opportunities for improved fishing and recreation."

The Service will spend $3 million in federal dollars on the 2006 projects, which will be matched by $5.6 million from partners.

For example, the Pennypack Creek project will cost $110,000, with $25,000 coming from the Service and the remainder from four partners, including the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission; the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; the Fish America Foundation; and the Southeast Montgomery County (PA) Chapter, Trout Unlimited. Other partners include Korman Residential Properties, Inc., the owner of the Old Huntingdon Pike Dam; and Montgomery County Parks Department / Lorimer Park.

Scarlett said the broad-based participation in the Fish Passage Program represents the kind of partnerships that symbolize the Bush administration's commitment to cooperative conservation. She noted that the program attracts citizens and agencies from every level of the public, private and civic sectors.

"The program's popularity is its own best endorsement," Scarlett said. "It just keeps growing and doing great work."

Many of the dams set for removal or bypass are small and date to the American or Industrial Revolutions, and were built either to accommodate early barge traffic or provide power or irrigation. As the dams were superseded by more efficient systems, they were abandoned, fragmenting habitat and depressing fish populations.

Since the beginning of the Fish Passage Program in 1999, improvements have been made to more than 5,000 miles of streams and rivers and more than 75,000 acres of habitat across the nation.

Completion of all the 2006 projects will open a total of 811 miles of additional habitat in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

"The generous matching funds supplied to us by organizations as diverse as garden clubs, city councils, conservation organizations, and state and federal agencies is dramatic evidence of the popularity of this program," said Service Director Dale Hall. "We not only have a long list of partners - we have a long waiting list of partners. This program is a winner all the way around - for the taxpayers and fish."

A complete list of projects is available on the Web at