The aspens are yellow, the mornings are frosty, and the Brown trout (Salmo trutta) are staging to spawn. Brown trout, like many of their salmonid cousins, migrate from lakes, oceans, or main-stem river reaches to headwater habitat to dig redds (nests in the gravel) and deposit their eggs1. For Brown trout in the Upper Snake River region, many don’t have access to headwater habitat due to hydraulic barriers and will spawn in main-stem river reaches instead.
In June 2016, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) and Henry’s Fork Foundation (HFF) received reports of the presence of gill lice on trout caught within the Henry’s Fork River system. Shortly after, a collaborative effort between HFF and IDFG was underway and we asked anglers and guides to help collect data on the prevalence, severity, and distribution of the parasite within the Upper Snake River region.
The Henry’s Fork Watershed Council held its annual field tour on August 9. About 25 participants met in Ashton to begin the tour, but more people joined later in the day.
The tour started with a trip to one of Idaho Power’s remote cloud-seeding sites in Island Park, where meteorologist Derek Blestrud explained the science and goals of the cloud-seeding program. Full implementation of ground- and aircraft-based operations in the upper Snake River basin is expected to increase annual streamflow by 400,000 acre-feet.
On Wednesday, September 7th HFF initiated an exciting addition to our water-sampling program designed to answer the following question: How far downstream of Island Park dam do high turbidity levels persist? These results will be important for predicting which reaches of the river will be most affected, and to what extent, during periods of high sediment delivery from Island Park reservoir.
My name is Bryce Oldemeyer and I am the newest addition to the full-time staff at HFF. I’m on my fourth week with the Foundation and intend to be around for a while so I’d liked to introduce myself and explain my new role here.
A weekly agricultural newspaper reported on the water outlook this week and it seems the situation our research team has been describing at Island Park Reservoir is reflected system wide.
"Snake Plain water managers were planning for a strong water year in March, but peak flows arrived early, limiting storage accumulation, and the summer has brought little precipitation and a prolonged stretch of high temperatures."
As the current water year has developed, it has become even more obvious that the Henry’s Fork Basin is changing. Taking a look back, these past four years on the Henry’s Fork have been four of the driest consecutive years on record since the late 1930s and early 1940s. The Foundation has been sharing statistics on this trend for over 18 months. That is our current reality. It is also not as simple as conditions just being “dry”. The true measure meaningful to growing fish and irrigating crops is water yield into the river.