The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is providing more than $2.7 million to support 52 fish habitat projects in 26 states across the nation. An additional $4.7 million in partner contributions, over $7.4 million in total, will go toward restoring and enhancing stream, lake and coastal habitat, as well as to improving recreational fishing and helping endangered species.

The funding is provided for priority projects identified through six Fish Habitat Partnerships established under the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP). The partnerships formed as part of this plan help direct funding and other resources to habitat improvement projects offering the highest long-term conservation returns.

More than 40 percent of U.S. fish populations are currently in decline, half of the waters in the U.S. are somehow impaired, and fragmented conservation efforts are not reversing these declines. Some of the principal factors contributing to these declines include: habitat destruction and fragmentation, toxic substances, invasive species, harmful algal blooms and altered thermal regimes.

“Despite the dedicated efforts of natural resource managers, the nation’s fish and aquatic resources face real challenges and habitat conservation is a key element of supporting fish populations and sustainable fisheries. Through the efforts of NFHAP and its partners to conserve fish habitats throughout the U.S, we can make a difference, said Sam Hamilton, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In addition to helping stem these declines, NFHAP projects also enhance fishing opportunities for the public by putting more dollars on the ground for fish conservation.

This year’s funding for NFHAP Partnership projects includes:

* Western Native Trout Initiative, Panther Creek, WA – $35,000 in Service funds and $45,100 in partner funds to restore upstream passage for westslope cutthroat trout, currently blocked by undersized culverts.

* Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, Oyster Habitat Restoration, SC – $86,286 in Service funds and $66,378 in partner funds to engage local residents in restoring oyster reefs in South Carolina.

* Driftless Area Restoration Effort, Elk Creek, WI – $25,714 in Service funds and $88,020 in partner funds to stabilize eroding banks and improve instream habitat for brook trout and non-game fish species.

* Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, Indian Stream, NH – $43,000 in Service funds and $90,000 in partner funds to remediate effects of historical logging practices to improve habitat for brook trout.

* Matanuska-Susitna Basin Salmon Conservation Partnership, Wasilla Creek, AK – $51,155 in Service funds and $52,000 in partner funds restore passage to 15 miles of habitat for coho salmon, Chinook salmon and trout.

* Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership, AK – $100,000 in Service funds and $100,000 in partner funds to document spawning and rearing areas to aid in land use planning and protection for these world class salmon waters.