FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: Nancy Bradley, (208) 552-0891
SENATOR CRAPO TO TOUR LITTLE LOST RIVER SUCCESS STORY
IDAHO FALLS—U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo will tour two projects that highlight the collaborative effort among conservation groups, state and federal agencies and landowners to protect and restore bull trout populations in Idaho’s Little Lost River drainage. Bull trout are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Aug. 29 tour will focus on fish passage projects on Badger Creek, a tributary to the Little Lost River, and on the main-stem Little Lost. The tour is sponsored by Trout Unlimited’s (TU) Idaho Water Office.
“This tour is an opportunity to celebrate the collaborative effort between agencies and irrigators in Idaho to assist in species recovery,” said Kim Goodman, the director of Trout Unlimited’s Idaho Water Office.
In the summer of 2003 TU, along with agency partners, worked with landowners to complete an assessment identifying all existing and potential barriers to bull trout migration. Since the completion of the assessment, the partners have developed relationships with the irrigators and worked with them to remove several barriers to bull trout migration. Working together, bull trout passage has been achieved, and agricultural activity has been maintained or even improved.
As well as working with irrigators to replace diversions that negatively impact bull trout migration, TU and the partners worked with one family to restore year-round flows to Badger Creek, one of the remaining strongholds for bull trout in the Little Lost River system. The family used a federal incentive program grant to change from flood to sprinkler irrigation, which allowed them to divert water from the main-stem Little Lost River rather than Badger Creek.
The Little Lost River is listed as water-quality impaired due to elevated temperature and sediment levels. By changing the point of diversion to take water out of the Little Lost River, warm turbid water is now used for irrigation while the cold, clean waters of Badger Creek flow into the Little Lost River. This not only improves the river’s water quality, but also restores bull trout access to over 6.5 miles of historic spawning and rearing habitat.
“What is so impressive about this story is the landowners didn’t have to cooperate with the project,” Goodman said. “But they did so because they had a genuine interest in making a productive change to the system that in the end benefited them as well as the fish.”
Goodman added that the work on the Little Lost River can serve as a model for how the Endangered Species Act can be used as a tool to not only help fish, but to serve landowners.
The partners in the restoration efforts include Trout Unlimited, Salmon-Challis National Forest, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Idaho Department of Water Resources, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and landowners including the Pancheri and Andreason families.