Protecting Wild Trout

The River is Changing, We're On It  

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River Flow Management  

Wild trout—and the aquatic systems that support them—are critically dependent on river flow. Because the Henry’s Fork and its major tributaries are highly managed for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation, participating in flow management decisions is a major component of the Henry’s Fork Foundation’s work in protecting wild trout.

Through its participation in the Henry’s Fork Watershed Council and the Island Park Drought Management Planning Committee, the Foundation works collaboratively with hydroelectric power companies, irrigators, and state and federal water managers to ensure that river flows benefit wild trout to the greatest extent possible while meeting state-allocated water rights of irrigators and providing hydroelectric power.

To check on current water flows click here.

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Protecting Stream Banks

A small group of local residents and summer home owners organized the Henry's Fork Foundation (HFF) in 1984 in response to hydroelectric plans and a precipitous decline in river productivity. Its first step was to begin a comprehensive program of fencing cattle away from fragile stream banks.

Since the 1980s, the Foundation has installed 21 miles of riparian fence costing more than $100,000 and protecting stream banks along the river from Last Chance to Pinehaven.  We continue to operate and maintain most of these fences almost 30 years later.  

Land-Use Planning and Land Protection

The physical habitat, quality of water, and river flows needed to maintain wild trout populations depend on the condition of the entire watershed. For example, upland and riparian vegetation filter runoff to remove pollutants and sediment before they can reach stream channels. Land uses that impair critical watershed functions result in degraded water quality and habitat for trout.

The Foundation participates in local planning and zoning processes, with the objective of eliminating or minimizing negative effects of development on the river's wild trout. In addition, we work collaboratively with agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, sister organizations such as the Teton Regional Land Trust, and private landowners to facilitate permanent protection of land through conservation easements and other mechanisms.

Preserving River Access

The Henry’s Fork Foundation is committed to protecting the river and its wild trout for the public to enjoy. Although access is guaranteed on public lands such as those managed by Idaho Parks and Recreation Department or the U.S. Forest Service, the Henry’s Fork flows through private land for much of its length. HFF works with landowners, agencies, irrigators, local counties, and other partners to acquire, improve, and maintain river access throughout the watershed on both private and public lands.

Acting as "The Voice of the River"

In the summer of 1992, sediment incidents plagued the watershed. In June of that year, more than 17,000 tons of material entered Fall River due to a construction accident at the Marysville Hydropower Project. Then in September, an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 tons entered the Henry's Fork below Island Park Dam during the reservoir's lowest-ever drawdown. These events demanded that more attention be paid to agency coordination within the entire watershed, spurring the creation of the Henry's Fork Watershed Council and ultimately leading to greatly enhanced understanding, trust, and cooperation among agencies and organizations in the watershed.

In addition to our role as co-facilitator of the Watershed Council, we have established ourselves as “The Voice of the River,” continuously monitoring conditions on the river and facilitating collaborative solutions when problems arise. HFF has been actively involved with the Chester Hydroelectric Project, repair and renovation of Ashton Dam, and re-construction of Stone Bridge, just to name a few recent projects. Maintaining constructive and respectful working relationships with a variety of partners in the watershed is the key to the Foundation's approach to preventing the types of incidents that threatened wild trout back in 1992.