Freeways for Fish

From 2005 to 2015, Freeways for Fish successfully restored fish access to 1,200 miles of the Rogue River and its tributaries in southwest Oregon. Native fauna are now better prepared for changes in water availability due to climate change, while local residents are enjoying more reliable stream and river flow, healthier landscapes, and the knowledge that their grandchildren will be able to fish, hike, and boat in the same waterways they know and love.

Our Approach

Freeways for Fish partnered with diverse stakeholder groups in the community to improve the connectivity of the rivers and streams that are an integral part of our lives. By removing outdated dams and restoring floodplains, we helped make streams more resilient in the face of warmer, drier climate conditions. Putting the meander back into our stream networks and replanting native shrubs and trees along streambanks helps our rivers and riparian areas to better absorb flood waters, sustain higher flows later in the summer, and provide shade to cool water temperature.

Freeways for Fish also focused on restoring fish passage at road culverts and irrigation diversion structures. By removing impediments and redesigning necessary structures, we made it possible for migratory fish like salmon, trout, and lamprey to reach historic spawning grounds, resting pools, and the cool water they need. 

Our Achievements

Over the past decade, the Geos Institute helped restore over 1,200 miles of the beautiful Rogue River and its tributaries.

These stream reaches were historically available to native fish, but development in the 20th century – like the creation of dams and diversion channels – reduced the amount of available spawning and rearing habitat. In combination with many other threats, the health and productivity of native salmon and trout diminished in the 1900s.

From 2005 to 2015, Freeways for Fish helped to reopen streams for salmon and trout. From removing several of the worst fish impediments in the state of Oregon to improving the design of water diversion structures, we’re proud to say that native fish now have more room to roam than they’ve had in a century.

Learn more about some of our Freeways for Fish projects:

Our Partners

We work with a lot of different organizations to make our on-the-ground work possible, including:

  • WaterWatch
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • River Design Group, Inc.,
  • L & S Rock Products, Inc.
  • Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
  • And many more groups


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Initiative of
Geos Institute