The decline in native fish populations is a nationwide ecological concern. Habitats supporting native fish and associated aquatic species are continually threatened by numerous causes. In order to address the threats to indigenous freshwater fish species, NFWF coordinates the Bring Back the Natives/More Fish program with the support of federal agencies and private donors.
The Bring Back the Natives/More Fish program invests ins conservation activities that restore, protect, and enhance native populations of sensitive or listed fish species across the United States, especially in areas on or adjacent to federal agency lands. This funding opportunity also provides grants to help implement the goals of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (www.fishhabitat.org). The program emphasizes coordination between private landowners and federal agencies, tribes, corporations, and states to restore the health of watersheds. The end result is on-the-ground restoration, in-stream improvements, and partnerships that benefit aquatic systems and their native fish species throughout the U.S.
Because the leading factors in native fish species decline are habitat alteration, lack of adequate instream flows, and invasive and/or non-native species, projects that address these threats, as well as projects that protect coastal and marine habitats, are of particular interest. Projects benefitting one or more of the following native fish species are priorities for funding through the Bring Back the Natives/More Fish program:
• Upper Colorado native fish (flannelmouth and bluehead suckers, roundtail chub, and Colorado cutthroat trout)
• Lahontan cutthroat trout
• Sierra Nevada native fishes (McCloud River redband trout, Eagle Lake rainbow trout, California golden trout, Little Kern golden trout)
• Apache trout
• Native eastern brook trout and associated native aquatic species (Chesapeake watershed has priority)
• Russian River (CA) Coho salmon
• Klamath Basin suckers, redband trout, and Coho salmon
• Southeast native black bass
• Native Atlantic coast estuarine-dependent or anadromous species (alewife, blueback herring, Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, American eel, and American shad)
• Snake and Yellowstone Basin native trout (Yellowstone cutthroat trout and Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout)
• Wild Pacific salmon in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon
• Native fish species identified by recognized and candidate National Fish Habitat Partnerships organized under the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (www.fishhabitat.org)
Since 1991, 380 projects have been supported through Bring Back the Natives/More Fish. A total of almost $18.5 million in NFWF funds has leveraged an additional $49 million in matching contributions for this program. Projects funded through Bring Back the Natives/More Fish have restored habitat for a number of listed species; protected and enhanced habitat for small, stable populations of native aquatic organisms; and contributed to keeping several species from being listed as endangered. Projects funded through this program also help implement the goals of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.
Support for this program is provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Jackson Hole One Fly Foundation, Orvis, Bass Pro Shops, and the Brunswick Foundation.