Spawn Creek Restoration Project
Cache Anglers Chapter of Trout Unlimited
In 2004, a collaborative group decided to fence Spawn Creek, a primary spawning and rearing tributary for Bonneville cutthroat trout. This ~1.5-mile reach of stream is a tributary to Temple Fork, which is a tributary to the Logan River. A large portion of Bonneville cutthroat trout use this reach for spawning and rearing each spring and summer. The riparian zone of the stream is grazed as permitted by the USFS. Because the Logan River drainage is home to one of the largest remaining meta-populations of Bonneville cutthroat trout, and in response to recent declines in abundance and increases in the prevalence of whirling disease, this collaborative group composed of Cache Anglers of Trout Unlimited, the USFS, UDWR- FES and Northern Region, and Utah State University proposed fencing the riparian zone. The goals of the project are to eliminate riparian degradation to cattle, improve the riparian corridor, and thus hopefully improve stream temperature and sediment conditions, etc. for fish growth and survival overall, and to reduce the prevalence and impacts of whirling disease.
A variety of different groups have provided or agreed to provide funds or other in-kind contributions toward the fencing project and towards a rigorous assessment of effectiveness including: UDWR, Habitat Council and Blue Ribbon Fisheries, USFS, Utah State University, Cache Anglers, Trout Unlimited, The Bonneville Chapter of American Fisheries Society, The Audubon Society, The Stonefly Society of the Wasatch, Weber Basin Anglers, and Sportsman Fish and Wildlife. The combined contribution of monetary funds from all sources exceeds $80,000, with a large in-kind contribution of labor, expertise, and analyses from many different private, state, and federal scientists and angler groups.
The project team purchased enough materials to construct 1,140 bucks for the buck and pole fence to be built on the South side of Spawn Creek (a fence on the North side is already in place. The bucks were hauled to the Project Area and constructed by the Cache Anglers. Monitoring includes temperature loggers, placed systematically throughout the reach, staff discharge gauge were installed and fish snorkeling estimates for fish abundance, species composition, and distribution. Population abundance was assessed at each reach using electroshocking depletion estimation techniques, and a small sub-sample of fish were collected for whirling disease and other analyses. Large fish were tagged for measurements of growth, survival, and distribution. The BLM Bug Lab at USU and a fluvial geomorphology lab is preparing to make measurements for a physical channel map.