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caption: A pair of culverts near Silverdale, Wash.
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A pair of culverts near Silverdale, Wash.

$1B up for grabs to help salmon get to where they're going

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announce a $1 billion program to help save the region's salmon while visiting Washington state Thursday.

Standing near a stream in Issaquah, Buttigieg compared fish to cars.

"The definition of transportation is connecting people and goods to where they need to go," he said. "This particular program calls us to think about making sure fish get to where they need to go, too."

Salmon need to travel up rivers to spawn. A lot of them don't make it because culverts get in the way.

Culverts are like tunnels that let streams pass under roadways. Many were installed decades ago. While they allow water to pass through, they don't work as well for salmon.

The new program will help pay to improve or replace culverts in the region. A total of $1 billion is available over five years thanks to the "National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration-Culvert Aquatic Organism Passage Program." Applications are open for tribal, state, and local governments.

Now, local officials just need to apply for the federal funds to address local culverts so fish will have a better shot of making it to their destinations.

“With this investment, we’re helping protect local economies that count on healthy fisheries and also make key roads less prone to flooding,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this first-in-its-kind effort will begin to address the longstanding challenges posed by existing culverts for fishing and Tribal communities, from the Pacific Northwest to the low-lying communities in the Southeast.”

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