National Fish Habitat Effort Focuses on Imperiled Waters

The National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) is an 11-year-old effort to shift attention, effort, and limited resources to state, federal, and private sectors with interests in fish habitats. Their mission is to protect, restore, and enhance the nation's fish and aquatic communities through partnerships that foster fish habitat conservation and improve the quality of life for American people. AFS has been at the table since the beginning, with Stan Moberly serving as AFS representative on the NFHP Board of Directors. AFS Executive Director Doug Austen was vice-chair of the NFHP Board while he directed the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and before he transitioned to AFS. Now the official AFS delegate has shifted from Doug to the president of the Fish Habitat Section; until August 2019 that role will be filled by Tom Lang, a fisheries supervisor at the Wichita Falls District Office of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

With that as background, AFS applauds the latest NFHP accomplishment—the December 20th release of additions to NFHP’s “Waters to Watch,” a list assembled with input from the 20 NFHP “regional fish habitat partnerships” working on the front lines to implement the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. As explained on the NFHP website, the annual “Waters to Watch” list is a collection of rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, and shores that will provide healthier fish habitat after some focused attention from one of the regional partnerships. The 10 new waters include a California ocean embayment, a Minnesota lake, an Arizona reservoir, and an Indiana river.

Thanks to the combined actions of concerned community groups, non-profit organizations, local watershed groups, Native American tribes, and state and federal agencies, these special places are being improved by planting stream-side vegetation, improving passage, and protecting bodies of water from the effects of industrial processes, agriculture, and livestock. Collaborative efforts at the more than 100 waters identified since 2007 will yield local benefits plus lessons and practices to be deployed elsewhere.

You can follow NFHP activities in your area by visiting the sites noted above, identifying your regional fish habitat partnership, and engaging in the very public process of protecting and restoring fish habitat.