HFF Science and Technology Program Advances to Meet New Challenges

Photo of Rainbow Trout.

As the climate warms and water availability becomes more uncertain, the future of wild trout fisheries in the Henry’s Fork depends critically on science-based management that ensures favorable streamflow, good water quality, and a positive fishing experience. Over the past three years, HFF has expanded a small but successful research program run by two full-time staff, with assistance from seasonal technicians and interns, into comprehensive programs in hydrology, water-quality, fisheries biology, and social science, each staffed by a full-time professional and supported year-round by technicians, interns, and graduate students.

HFF’s newly developed predictive computer models of snowmelt, streamflow, irrigation demand and reservoir storage provide river users and water managers with up-to-date water-supply information every morning. HFF’s water-quality director has written extensive computer code to process and analyze nearly 2 million individual data points collected each year by our network of automated water-quality sensors. We have recently increased the utility of this network by using the latest high-tech hardware and software to transmit real-time water-quality data from the river to a central server and web site. HFF’s fisheries biologist not only continues long-term operation of fish passage facilities but also uses modern statistical methods to model trout population dynamics and assess the effectiveness of water and fisheries management actions. The social science team has quantified the factors that anglers most value in the Henry’s Fork fishery, and in turn, quantified the value those anglers bring to the local economy, giving wild trout a voice in decision-making.

HFF’s increased scientific and technological capacity is due in large part to expanded logistical support and a modern multi-purpose laboratory made possible by HFF’s expansion into its new campus. As a result, HFF is changing the name of its former “Research and Restoration” program to “Science and Technology” to more accurately reflect our emphasis on real-time, science-based management supported by the latest technology.

 

Photo of HFF staff collecting invertebrate samples.

HFF research associates Bryce Oldemeyer and Melissa Muradian collect invertebrate samples from the Henry's Fork at Osborne Bridge.

 

Photo of HFF staff member downloading water-quality data in the field.

HFF Research Associate and water-quality program director Melissa Muradian downloads data from one of our 10 water-quality monitoring sondes.

 

Photo of HFF staff analyzing water samples.

HFF intern Gary Anderson and technician Ben Ortman analyze water samples in our new laboratory.

 

Photo of sonde data transmission electronics.

Electronic equipment that transmits water-quality data from the field to the lab in real time.