TU has focused on local stream restoration efforts that depend on working partnerships with landowners, water users, and state and federal agencies. These parties recognize TU as a dependable partner contributing to innovative solutions and a leader committed to improving Idaho's water policies.
Here are some sample projects:
The Upper Lemhi River gained a valuable section of restored spawning and rearing habitat for salmon, steelhead and trout with the completion of restoration on Little Springs Creek. A local family asked TU's Idaho Water Project to help design, fund, and construct a project that would improve water quality and once again provide habitat for this vital fishery.
TU restored the channel and stream bank and planted large clumps of native willow on a 1.4 mile section of the creek. TU volunteers from the Snake River Cutthroats built over a mile of jack and rail fencing to protect the creek and streambank area. Trout Unlimited is planning future projects on Little Springs Creek for additional channel restoration, elimination of irrigation structures and improved fish passage.
The Big Lost and Little Lost river basins of central Idaho, while long known for their outstanding fishing, in recent decades have suffered serious declines in native bull trout and mountain whitefish populations. TU has worked with more than 30 partners, including the Forest Service, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and local ranchers and county officials, to protect and restore fish populations in these two river systems. This partnership has restored fish passage around more than 20 irrigation diversions, improved fish migratory access to more than 200 miles of habitat, restored miles of stream habitat, and reintroduced mountain whitefish into many streams where they historically occurred.
TU has provided fish passage around every irrigation diversion and fish barrier in the Big Lost River and its major mid-section tributary (Antelope Creek), except for the Mackay Dam. Installing a 300-foot bypass channel around the largest irrigation diversion, Chilly Diversion, opened up more than 125 miles of habitat for whitefish and trout. Since removing that barrier, populations of trout and whitefish have been dramatically improving.
Moreover, TU successfully worked with local farming families to remove barriers for ESA-listed bull trout on the Little Lost River that prevent bull trout from migrating into colder tributaries to spawn (see sidebar on Badger Creek).
In 2010, the Idaho Water Project received an award from the U.S. Forest Service for its efforts in the Big and Little Lost River basins. Read more.