Fisheries Program

2018 Fisheries Accomplishments graphic

Our national forests and grasslands are home to some of America’s cleanest, healthiest, and most productive waterways. These same lakes, rivers, and streams also host anglers and recreationists from all walks of life who want to interact with nature, spend time on the water, and make memories with friends and family. The healthy watersheds upon which these fish and wildlife depend provide clean, abundant water for downstream uses that include drinking water supplies, irrigation for agriculture, many forms of outdoor recreation, and important cultural activities and ways of life.  Your Best Waters

Forest Service experts work alongside our federal, state, tribal, nonprofit and community partners to monitor, maintain, and restore the waterways that provide such abundance to the American people. Without their support, much of this work would not be realized.


In 2018, the U.S. Forest Service Fisheries Program enhanced, maintained, and restored watersheds, conserved a variety of threatened, endangered and sensitive aquatic species, and connected with millions of Americans in aquatic educational and volunteer opportunities. Our important restoration work accomplished in collaboration with hundreds of partners helped to conserve and restore aquatic habitat, and provide important economic, social and cultural benefits to neighboring communities and stakeholders. Recreational fishing on national forests and grasslands generates more than $2.2 billion annually through the fishing equipment, boats, travel, outfitter and guide services, fuel and licenses.  National Forests in Alaska typically provide a third of the state of Alaska’s salmon harvest, with an estimated annual commercial, recreational and subsistence value of $1 billion.

In 2018 the Forest Service carried on with their training and implementation of stream simulation designs at road-stream crossings to ensure aquatic organism passage for fish and other aquatic life, while making transportation infrastructure more flood resilient.  Partners played a pivotal role in funding and implementing these road-stream crossings that, compared to conventional culverts, accommodate heavier water flows, and are less likely to be blocked and damaged by debris. Most importantly it helps reduce risk to human life. The local economies that depend on healthy waterways, fish, and wildlife also benefit from the more resilient aquatic environment that allow for robust fish populations and the recreation opportunities supported by clean, productive waterways.

In 2018:

  • 3,489 miles of stream habitat and 31,980 acres of lake habitat were restored or enhanced
  • 255 road-stream crossings were upgraded or removed for flood resiliency and for Aquatic Organism Passage. This is a 30% increase from 2016 accomplishments.
  • The removal or replacement of these stream crossings reconnected more than 481 miles of aquatic habitat.
  • The Forest Service invested $17.5 million in the road-stream crossing projects. Partner organizations invested $9.6 million to make these priority projects a success.
  • 35 dam structures were removed or mitigated for aquatic organism passage, flood resiliency and safety in 2018 by the Forest Service and partners.
  • Forest Service and partners engaged over 1.8 million people through social media, kid’s fishing derbies, film, educational events, celebrations, volunteer activities and citizen science in fish and aquatic activities.

Recreational Fishing – An Economic Powerhouse* and a Cherished Tradition:

  • In 2018, our National Forests & Grasslands hosted nearly 8.4 million annual visits for recreational fishing.  
  • Recreational fishing on National Forests supported 7,340 jobs.
  • Recreational fishing on National Forests contributed over $1 Billion in economic output to local communities, and contributed $599 Million to our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

*data derived from the USDA Forest Service National Visitor Use Monitoring survey and various economic input-output models, including IMPLAN.