April 1 is an important date in water management in the western U.S. because it is the typical date of maximum water content in the snowpack at most mountain locations. Based on yesterday's data, I predict that April-June streamflow in the Henry's Fork at Island Park this spring will be the lowest in the last 35 years and possibly the lowest since the extended drought of the 1930s. And that's no April fooling.
Here at the Henry’s Fork Foundation we are fortunate to have many generous donors. We are also fortunate to have business partners that donate in conventional and unconventional ways to help us expand our fundraising efforts and accomplish more projects to benefit the river. While I am may not keep the clockwork schedule Rob Van Kirk does with his Friday blogs, I am going to attempt to write recognition pieces a couple of times per month.
Last week, aquatic invertebrate experts David Richards and Brett Marshall met us on the river to kick off an exciting new project that will allow HFF to monitor numbers and types of aquatic insects and other invertebrates using DNA “bar-coding”. Former HFF Board Chair Robert Dotson joined us for part of the day.
The Henry's Fork Foundation's 2014 Annual Report has just been posted online. It contains reports and photos of our major projects plus a list of the hours and money we spent on projects in 2014. A special pull-out section chronicles the first 30 years of the Foundation to commemmorate our 30th anniversary. We listed our donors for the year, including the new Legacy Society of those who have remembered the Foundation in their estate planning. And you can read what some folks said when we asked them what kind of impact the Foundation made in its first 30 years.
I’ve been traveling much of the past two weeks and haven’t had time to post a blog lately. This week’s post is the presentation I gave at the Idaho Chapter American Fisheries Society meeting in Boise on March 4.
As most of you know, HFF conducted a survey of anglers in Harriman State Park (“the Ranch”) in 2014. The survey was identical to one conducted back in 2008, for direct comparison of angler attitudes and experiences between the two years. In 2008, the (new, improved) Buffalo River fish ladder and the Island Park Drought Management Planning process were each only two years old and so had not had time to fully affect the population of rainbow trout available to anglers. By 2014, two full fish generations had passed since implementation of these two major fishery improvement projects, and we went back to see whether anglers had noticed any difference in the fishing.
On Friday afternoon, just as I started writing my blog, I received a phone call from Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) staff in Boise. The purpose of the call was to alert me that water-supply and administrative conditions were aligning to allow diversion of water upstream of American Falls Reservoir for aquifer recharge. That prompted me drop what I was starting to write and instead revisit the water-supply situation, which I last did on January 7. So, how are we doing five weeks later?
This week I attended Idaho Department of Environmental Quality's annual Water Quality Monitoring workshop in Boise. This was the workshop's 25th year, although it was my first time attending. HFF was invited to participate because of the large amount of water quality data we are now collecting and analyzing. This week's blog consists of my presentation at that workshop.
For many years, outfitters and guides, anglers, and irrigation managers have inquired about the causes of daily fluctuations in streamflow in the Henry’s Fork downstream of Ashton Dam. These fluctuations are large enough to be noticed by anglers while they are out on the river and large enough to cause canal diversion rates to vary throughout the day. Although fluctuations occur year-round, they are highest in amplitude and have the greatest effect on fishing, river ecology, and irrigation operations during the late summer and early fall.
From the outside, it would appear that HFF’s busiest time of year is the month or two leading up to and surrounding Henry’s Fork Day in June. But, I’m going to make the case here that the next six or eight weeks are in fact the busiest of the year when averaged over the entire HFF team. If nothing else, this week’s blog will give you a good idea of the breadth of our work.