June 8, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Warren Colyer, 435-753-3132 or Scott Yates, 307-332-7700
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Thanks to two major federal grants, Trout Unlimited (TU) will soon begin work to improve water flows in Grade Creek and increase spawning habitat for Bear River Bonneville cutthroat trout.
Last week, TU received $110,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and $120,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Private Stewardship Grant program. These grants will support the planning and implementation of a major watershed restoration project on private land on Grade Creek, which is a tributary of the Smiths Fork of the Bear River.
“Grade Creek historically provided critical spawning habitat for Bonneville cutts,” said Chauncey Goodrich, president of the Pinedale TU Chapter. “These grants provide a tremendous opportunity to get this project off the ground and reconnect the creek to the mainstem.”
For the past 50 years, Grade Creek has been disconnected from the Smiths Fork due to an irrigation system that diverts the creek into a pond. The bottom two miles of Grade Creek have been permanently dewatered by this water delivery system. By reconnecting Grade Creek to Smiths Fork, this project will reestablish access to upstream spawning habitat for fluvial Bear River Bonneville cutthroat trout and establish a minimum streamflow to improve habitat for other native aquatic species.
“This is truly a win-win project,” said Jerry Kirk, who owns much of the land in the Grade Creek drainage. “It’s encouraging to see producers and conservationists recognizing their common interests and finding solutions that ensure productive agriculture and benefit native fish.”
Trout Unlimited will conduct this project in partnership with Mr. Kirk, Wyoming Game and Fish, Pinedale TU Chapter, Beak Lake Watch, Valmont Irrigation Company, Cascade Earth Sciences and Bridger-Teton National Forest.
“The success of this project will hinge on habitat restoration work as well as the reestablishment of stream flows in the creek,” said Warren Colyer, TU’s Project Manager for the Bear River Restoration Project. “In the West, habitat and flows are two sides of the same coin – we need to make them both work in order to see fish returning to these streams.”