Cost analysis of migratory fish passage restoration projects funded by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Region

Authors: Kevin Gardner*, University of New Hampshire
Topics: Animal Geographies
Keywords: migratory fish passage, restoration, dam removal, technical fishway, nature-like fishway
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Jefferson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) provides technical assistance and awards grants for a variety of pro-active fishery restoration projects, including removal of dams and other passage benefitting migratory fishes. We examined three different types of fish passage projects funded by NMFS in the Northeast Region of the U.S. (ME-VA) from 2007 through 2017. The three fish passage project types in our study include dam removals, technical fishways, and nature-like fishways – all associated with run-of-the-river dams. Costs for these projects were categorized into four project phases: 1) assessment and feasibility, 2) design and permitting, 3) construction, and 4) post-construction. Data were secured from NMFS’ Restoration Center Database, supplemented by review of plans and project documents and personal communications with NMFS staff and partnering organizations. Project costs (converted to 2018 dollars) were standardized as a cost per foot rise of passage barrier height. Our preliminary dataset includes 50 dam removals, 12 technical fishways, and four nature-like fishways. Mean height of the dams or the hydraulic design height of fishways was 8.9 feet. The mean life to project completion was 4.8 years (range: 2 to 12 years). Dam removals, technical fishways, and nature-like fishways in this dataset had mean cost per foot rise of $115,130, $128,544, and $255,270, respectively. Construction and implementation accounted for most of the overall cost for all projects, with minimal investment typically for post-construction monitoring. Future work will extend to additional projects and assess components of projects that substantially increased project time to completion and overall costs.

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