Maximizing returns on investing in barrier culvert removal in Washington state


PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Sunny Jardine (University of Washington)

CO-INVESTIGATORS: Daniel Holland (NOAA Northwest Fishery Science Center), Mark Scheuerell (University of Washington), Robert Fonner (NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center), Braeden Van Deynze (University of Washington)


Washington state has hundreds of culverts at stream crossings that fish must migrate through. However, many culverts contribute to declines in fish populations by blocking migration passage, limiting access to critical spawning and rearing habitat. A federal injunction requires that Washington state restore 90 percent of blocked habitat with state-owned culverts by 2030. Unfortunately, state-owned culverts only account for a fraction in the system with other ownerships from cities, counties, Tribes, and landowners and many jurisdictions are under-staffed, making it critical to prioritize barriers that will gain the most benefit from restoration.

The Washington Sea Grant-funded research team is creating an online tool with state-wide information identifying where to find the greatest culvert restoration needs. The Beta website allows users to create customized figures and tables summarizing culverts in Western Washington, and subsets of these culverts based on ownership and location. This tool will enable planners and jurisdictions to identify and prioritize state-wide barrier culvert restoration for quality habitat restoration within given budget constraints.