Restoring Fish Passage








Fish Passage Banking

Reopening Oregon rivers for migrating fish



We helped Oregon become the first state to create a conservation bank for fish habitat. Oregon state agencies used this approach along with our fish passage calculator to determine where river restoration projects can most benefit migrating fish. With our partners, we helped to reopen over 20 miles of salmon habitat on the Trask River by removing the largest barrier to fish in the North Coast district. Watch a time-lapse video of the dam removal.



Video / Oregon Department of Forestry

Reopening the Trask River to migrating salmon


In 2016, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife partnered with the Oregon Department of Transportation, Willamette Partnership, and The Nature Conservancy to create a fish passage mitigation bank in order to help advance and accelerate high-priority river restoration projects for native migratory fish like salmon and steelhead. As a pilot application of this approach to mitigation, a dam was removed on the Trask River of Oregon’s North Coast Basin, reopening of 23 miles of habitat for salmon to migrate.


In Oregon, it is law to provide a way for fish to get around artificial obstructions where native migratory fish are present. There is, however, a caveat. Developers can apply for a waiver to mitigate their impacts instead if the mitigation project will help out more native migratory fish in the end. In other words, if you’re building a road across a stream you either have to provide a way for fish to get around the road or you have to improve passage elsewhere that’s going to help out more fish than your project is affecting.

With a fish passage bank, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife can make more transparent and data-driven decisions about which mitigation projects are acceptable in lieu of providing fish passage.

In the case of the fish passage bank on the Trask, access to 23 miles of high-quality habitat for native migratory fish was gained in lieu of 6 miles of low- to moderate-quality habitat lost.


(Download the fish passage fact sheet)


“This process will allow ODOT to make vital culvert repairs and replacements while providing an increased net-benefit to native migratory fish over the existing waiver [mitigation] process.”


– Bill Warncke, Statewide Aquatic Biology & Fish Passage Program Leader, Oregon Department of Transportation


At the end of the pilot phase (2015-2018), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will be evaluating its success and lessons learned to potentially develop a statewide mitigation banking program for the state of Oregon.

Learn more about how fish passage mitigation banking and the credit calculator work.

fish passage trask river willamette partnership graphic

Photos courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation

Get in touch about fish passage.


Nicole Maness


Have questions about the country’s first fish passage mitigation banking program?

Contact Nicole Maness, Resilient Habitat Program Manager

We helped develop habitat mitigation programs for states across the West to protect greater sage-grouse and give ranchers an economic boost.