Things are getting weird here at the Henry’s Fork Foundation. One by one I have watched as the other interns finished their various projects and moved on to other adventures while I am still just starting mine here. Its week four of my twelve-week internship and it truly has been an adventure so far. But time truly flies here at the Henry’s Fork Foundation, every day is unique, and in my experience, this makes the days and weeks pass before you know what is happening. Things that have been occupying my time have been a good mix of my project, creel surveys, and water sampling.
My personal project that I have been working on for about two weeks now and will continue to pursue is a fencing project. There is approximately three miles of barbed wire fence that runs in two sections along the Henry’s Fork in Island Park. These fences block the river from the pasture that borders the river on both sides. I read that the fence was put up in the mid-late 1980's in a joint effort by the Henry’s Fork Foundation and the Idaho State government to help save the river banks from the cows that graze in the pastures. When the cows came to the river, they trampled the river banks that were very important habitat for both young and older trout, greatly hindering the reproduction of trout along the river. Now the responsibility for these fish’s habitat falls on me while I manage the fence line to keep the cows out and the river banks healthy. Thinking about this helps me find the value in me spending time up there in the heat of the day, fixing the fence where the wires have fallen or been broken, or posts have been pushed over.
Creel surveys are a much bigger portion of my work load than I thought they would be when I started working at HFF. The surveys weren’t assigned to me as much before the other interns finished, but now that we can’t all share the load, I get to go out and talk to anglers more than before. Luckily, anglers are usually very nice people to talk to! Anglers often come from far away to fish the legendary Henry’s Fork and come with lots of stories to tell.
The last big thing I do with my time is help the full-time scientists with their water quality and data analysis projects. This is probably the most interesting part of what I do because it quickly translates to real life, useful information about the health and the strength of the river. A large portion of what is measured is how influential the Island Park Dam is in affecting the turbidity of the water all the way down the river, as well as things like temperature and dissolved oxygen. And probably the best part about the whole thing is that this is all entirely new to me! Just the fact that I am learning new skills and being part of something to help the river helps me stay motivated and excited to keep moving forward.