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Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation

Fisheries Program

What We Manage

The BLM manages a significant amount of fish habitat on federal lands, including 117,000 miles of fish-bearing streams and over 3 million acres of lakes and reservoirs.

Missouri River, Montana

The more than 245 million surface acres managed by the BLM contain diverse water bodies, from isolated desert springs harboring populations of rare and unique fish to large Columbia and Yukon River tributaries that provide habitat for Pacific salmon and steelhead as they migrate long distances to breed.  
 
BLM waters support subsistence fisheries that sustain traditional Native American cultural heritages, as well as nationally significant recreational fisheries such as Gunnison Gorge in Colorado, Lake Havasu in Arizona/California and the Rogue River in Oregon.
 
Public lands also support special status aquatic species such as fish, amphibians, mollusks, and macroinvertebrates that have been identified by BLM State Offices as species managed on BLM lands whose population or habitat is of concern. These include 127 federally-listed threatened or endangered aquatic species and 155 BLM sensitive species. In short, BLM’s rivers, lakes and streams are of great ecological, cultural, and recreational importance.

What We Do

The BLM Fisheries Program maintains, restores and conserves fish habitat on the public lands. Much of this work is accomplished in collaboration with others and funded through various partnerships with Federal, State and non-governmental organizations. 

The BLM also conducts aquatic resource inventories and monitoring to help managers make informed decisions and to assist in the design of other BLM program activities to ensure the special habitat needs of aquatic species are adequately considered.  
 
In addition, BLM fisheries biologists participate in angler activities with State fish and game agencies. Anglers on public lands generated more than half a billion dollars in expenditures in 2008, making a significant contribution to local economies. 

The BLM Fisheries Program also works closely with State game and fish agencies to assist with implementation of State Comprehensive Wildlife Management Plans.

New Fisheries Brochures

Two brochures have been developed to further explain the BLM Fisheries Management Program and are available for downloading. Fisheries Program: Leaders in Fish Habitat Conservation describes BLM's fisheries program and the bureau's many conservation partnerships which focus on habitat conservation and restoration, monitoring, and fish passage improvements.  A second brochure on the National Aquatic Monitoring Center describes a cooperative agreement between the BLM and Utah State University to encourage watershed monitoring programs on public lands.  Click on the images to download the brochures.

Note: Case Studies provided in these links represent only a few of the thousands of on-the-ground projects conducted by BLM and its partners each year. For more information on field-level work, go to www.blm.gov , find the map and click on the state you are interested in.  That will take you to the BLM State and Field Office websites.    


Habitat Conservation
Spencer Creek, Oregon.  Logs enhance fish habitat. BLM photo

Few resource agencies conduct fish habitat restoration and enhancement on the same scale as the BLM. Since 2000, the BLM and its partners have improved 5,562 miles of stream and 113,592 acres of lakes and reservoirs.

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Fish Passage Improvement
Fish barrier project in Crooked Creek, Montana.  BLM photo
As part of the BLM’s efforts to improve fish habitat, the Fisheries Program is addressing fish passage problems that occur at stream culverts associated with the 78,000 miles of roads on BLM-managed lands.

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Monitoring
Fish surveys in Alaska, two men in creek wih nets.

In order to make informed decisions, one must have accurate information on the status of aquatic resources. Thus, monitoring of fish populations, fish habitat, macroinvertebrates, and other aquatic features is important.

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Challenges
Quagga Mussels, David Britton, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Climate Change is emerging as a key threat to fish and fish habitat as the hydrologic cycle changes. Drought, changes in runoff and flow patterns, and the increasing risk of wildfire could cause additional stress to aquatic ecosystems in the West.

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Partnerships
Partnership fish reintroduction project, Bonita Creek, Arizona.  Photo by Dianne Drobka, BLM

The BLM’s Fisheries Program depends on a multitude of conservation partnerships, from the grass-roots to the national level. The BLM engages a variety of people and organizations to join in the process of aquatic habitat conservation.

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Healthy Landscapes
Headwaters Forest Reserve, California.  BLM photo

The BLM’s Fisheries program is an integral component of the BLM's cross-cutting landscape restoration initiatives, supporting projects that enhance aquatic ecosystems and the associated habitat for a variety of fish species. 

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