Land transformations occurring from energy development and agrarian use have altered the natural connectivity of fish communities inhabiting prairie waterways. The nation’s prairie waterways are obstructed by thousands of barriers that include road culverts, irrigation diversions, and dams. Connectivity is essential for the long term viability of aquatic species. One of the most promising adaptive management strategies for addressing impacts to aquatic systems by climate change and other landscape stressors is increasing connectivity. The purpose of this research is to characterize swimming abilities of three northern plains fish species; the sauger, the longnose dace, and the fathead minnow. The results of the research will be used to assess barriers, prioritize removals, and design fish passage ways to restore connectivity for these and other species. The results of this study may be used to identify populations and habitats most at risk to climate change impacts and land-use stressors, and develop conservation delivery options in response to science informed predictions and realities.