Fish

Find how to coordinate with various stakeholders, document impacts, and apply for permits when there are fish in the project area.

Before you start

Conduct a wetland reconnaissance survey to identify waters in the project area.

Some species of fish are also federally listed as threatened or endangered species and they and their habitats have special protections. Use the Endangered Species Act & Essential Fish Habitat webpage to consult on federally protected species.

Identify fish passage barriers, including injunction barriers

Determine fish barrier status using our Fish Passage Inventory Webmap and our internal Fish Passage Site Management Application.

Use the database to generate reports and find details about a fish passage site, including:

  • Site description, including location, ownership, fish use, species, injunction-relevant information, Geotechnical memos, Habitat Connectivity memos, CED concurrence memos, and other information  
  • Feature information, including barriers status, field review date, structure type and dimensions, and inspection/maintenance information  
  • Habitat information for barriers and corrected barriers
  • Project information from CPMS
  • Photos
  • Barrier correction and post-project monitoring information for corrected barriers 
  • Site group classification for analysis

Use the database to obtain fish passage program delivery information, including: 

  • Preliminary Hydraulic Design (PHD) process flow-chart and contact list
  • Updated Delivery Planning spreadsheet
  • Executed WDFW/WSDOT Fish Passage Agreement
  • WDFW project support tracking and permitting assignments
  • WSDOT’s Fish Passage Barrier Correction Monitoring Plan
  • Injunction Culvert Implementation Guidelines

Explore the Fish Passage Inventory group in our GIS workbench, which includes feature classes and tables related to injunction and non-injunction road crossings, including culverts, dams, fishways, bridges, fish barriers, and miscellaneous instream structures across Washington State. Use the ‘WSDOT Sites’ data layer to locate fish passage barriers and corrected barriers within or near the planning study area.

Use the Pre-Design Guidance for Fish Passage Projects (PDF 162KB) for the scoping effort recommended for fish passage projects.

Request a fish passage inventory or habitat assessment work associated with culverts

If you have identified data gaps in culvert fish passage inventory or habitat assessment work associated with culverts, please contact our Stream Restoration program manager.

Identify permit needs

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) requires a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permit for work that may use, divert, obstruct, or change the natural flow or bed of any of the salt or freshwaters of the state. Get an HPA for work below the Ordinary High Water Line or on water crossing structures. You may need to apply for an HPA for work near streams, like felling trees. You do not need an HPA for utility work on bridges or minor work, like burying rock above the top of the bank to prevent erosion.

General HPA

General HPAs (GHPAs) are good for five years and cover a geographic area such as statewide, county, or a watershed. Check the General HPAs (GHPAs) below to see if your work is covered:

You cannot use GHPAs for work that requires compensatory mitigation.

If the work will not comply with all the GHPA provisions (such as timing restrictions) apply for a standard, expedited, or emergency HPA.

See the GHPA for instructions how to document that the work can be covered under a GHPA. Maintenance staff, enter your GHPA use in the HATS database. Track the use of the Design and Preservation GHPA for end of the year reporting in a copy of the Annual GHPA reporting form (XLSX 181KB).

Coordinate with the WDFW Habitat Biologist if you have questions about the project meeting the GHPA project description and provisions.

Standard HPA

Apply for a standard HPA during final design if your project cannot be covered under a GHPA or other issued HPAs. 

For stream restoration projects on state forest land, apply for an HPA, not a Forest Practices Hydraulic Project, from the Department of Natural Resources.

Fish habitat enhancement projects

FHEP HPAs are a type of Standard HPA. Check RCW 77.55.181  to see if your project qualifies for an FHEP HPA. You may use the FHEP HPA review process to remove fish passage barriers as part of a larger transportation project; however, you will need a standard HPA for any elements of the project that do not qualify for an FHEP HPA.  Stream restoration work and Chronic Environmental Deficiency (CED) repairs must be stand-alone and not part of a larger transportation project.

If your project qualifies for an FHEP HPA, it is exempt from SEPA and local permits except for the Floodplain Development permit. See the Floodplain webpage to determine if you need to apply for a Floodplain Development Permit.

Expedited HPA

If there is an imminent or chronic danger or if the processing time of 45 days for a Standard HPA would cause additional hardships or risks to the environment, check WAC 220-660-050 sections (5) Imminent danger HPA, (6) Chronic danger HPA, and (7) Expedited HPA to see if your work qualifies for an expedited HPA. Work with your WDFW Habitat Biologist to determine if the HPA may be expedited.  WDFW will issue expedited HPAs within 15 days. If the work cannot be completed within 60 days after WDFW issues the HPA, apply for a standard HPA.

Emergency HPA

Apply for an Emergency HPAs if there is an immediate threat to life or property and if the governor, WDFW, or county legislative authority declared an emergency.  Check WAC 220-660-050 section (4) Emergency HPA to see if your work qualifies for an Emergency HPA. 

Contact your WDFW Habitat Biologist or call the Emergency Hotline 360-902-2537 for approval to use the Emergency HPA before any in-water or near water work. The Habitat Biologist will provide verbal approval with conditions, fill out the HPA application in APPS, and issue the permit within 30 days. 

Multi-site HPAs & bundling

You may bundle multiple projects under a multi-site HPA if they are in the same water resource inventory area (WRIA) or tidal reference area. If you intend to bundle more than five projects in a single HPA, get approval from the WDFW Habitat Biologist during preliminary design. 

Pre-Design guidance

Use the Pre-Design Guidance for Fish Passage Projects (PDF 162KB) document to find guidance on the final hydraulic design related to fish passage projects.

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