As we are now about half-way through our snow-accumulation season and half-way through the critical winter period for survival of juvenile trout, it is a good time to assess our current water supply and what it may mean for the upcoming spring and summer.
My top-10 list is limited to items from our programmatic work (research and restoration, stewardship, and education) and so does not include other notable HFF events and accomplishments such as four record-breaking fundraising receptions, the 30th Anniversary edition of Henry’s Fork Day, and a special appearance by “The Voice of the River” at the North Fremont Education Foundation talent show and auction. These are all important events and accomplishments that make our programmatic work possible.
I started out the morning thinking that I would replace the usual blog entry this week with a “fishy” version of “The Night Before Christmas”—you know, “Twas the night before Christmas, in the river, throughout, not a creature was stirring, not even a trout. The stockingfoot waders had been hung with care, but many with holes were in need of repair…”
More than 14 years ago, Joan Rice went to work for the Henry's Fork Foundation as a clerk. Over the years, her duties changed and she began keeping track of the finances of the growing non-profit. For the past several years, she has been an independent contractor, doing the Foundation's books and acting as human resources manager. Joan announced in November that she is retiring, and her last day on the job will be Dec. 31. You can't replace Joan. She is one of a kind, but we have hired a successor in time to allow Joan to provide some training before she leaves. Our new Finance and HR Manager is Tim Maurer of Ashton. Tim will be starting out part-time through the end of 2014 to take advantage of training opportunities with Joan. He will start working 32 hours/week in January. Tim will be responsible for all of the duties traditionally assigned to Joan, and with Kennalee Howell leaving on a LDS mission this spring, also take on her role within the Foundation. Tim has been a valued asset as a volunteer at Henry’s Fork Day and other HFF events. He has also contracted with HFF to close out select RAC grants within the last two years. Tim brings project administration experience, attention to detail, and event management credentials to HFF after completing a career in the military and civilian service. While I am sad to have Joan depart, I am relieved and excited to be working with Tim to steward the HFF financial resources, interact with the HFF Finance Committee, and have him assist with our fundraising efforts.
It has been an exciting week in the water-management world, starting with last week’s episode of 60 minutes, in which Lesley Stahl presented the global problem of groundwater decline, using California’s Central Valley as a particular example. There, where the State has only recently taken the first small steps toward regulating groundwater pumping, the amount of water removed from the aquifer is so great that the land surface has sunk over 10 feet in many areas.
You’re lucky this week, because my blog will be really short. The reason for that is that it is already 4 p.m. on Friday, after two full days of working out in cold, snowy weather to get ready for winter—except that winter had already arrived on Monday.
In last week’s blog, I described a particularly busy, though not atypical, couple of weeks of my work here at the Henry’s Fork Foundation. The subject of aquifer recharge came up numerous times in that blog, so I thought I’d follow up this week with an overview of aquifer recharge, how it could affect wild trout on the Henry’s Fork, and what HFF is doing to ensure that recharge activities do not harm fisheries and perhaps could even help them.
My co-workers keep reminding me that I need to post a blog once in a while, and those of you who know me well know that my lack of blogging activity has nothing to do with lack of something to say. Every day in the course of my work I come across ideas and information that I think would make great blog posts, but every day, more things end up in the “in” box than the “out” box, pushing blogging farther down the priority list.
The last two weeks have been more hectic than usual, resulting in an “out-minus-in” deficit even greater than average. However, my work over the past two weeks provides an excellent example of the challenges we face in maintaining wild trout fisheries in the Henry’s Fork. I thought sharing these challenges with you would make a great blog post and give some deeper insight into HFF and its work. As with most things I write, it’s a little long, but look at this way—it’s five or six weeks’ worth of shorter blogs!
As some of you have heard, flow in the Henry’s Fork at St. Anthony dropped suddenly at around 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 23rd. Flow dropped from 1050 cfs to 622 cfs over a one-hour-period and then increased to 1080 cfs over the next 45 minutes. The river bottom was briefly exposed in shallow areas along the banks and in side channels. We received a report that some small fish were stranded and that brown trout redds were exposed. The event was short enough that gravel in the redds most likely remained saturated.