Upper Bear River Reconnect and Flow Restoration Project
For more than a hundred years, individual ranchers and irrigation companies have diverted water from the main stem of the upper Bear River and a key tributary, the East Fork, to water hay and alfalfa field downstream near the town of Evanston, Wyoming. Many of these aging canals and ditches run dozens of miles across glacial till before their first point of use. This project consolidates two major canals and screens another. The net effect is to restore as much as 35 cfs to the East Fork and Bear River mainstem, dramatically improving braided river and riparian habitat for over seven miles. Fish screens will also eliminate fish entrainment in the various canals and ditches. Lastly, the project reconnects high quality habitat on the East Fork with marginal habitat on the Bear River main stem, leaving wild brown trout, native Bonneville cutthroat trout and a plethora of other species better able to respond to drought, climate change, and localized threats like floods and fire.
We plan to screen the Hovarka canal and consolidate the larger Hilliard Canal with an existing canal, the Lannon Ditch, roughly seven miles downstream. The new consolidated canal will be screened as well. This project may also open the door for additional consolidations further downstream, extending the project benefits.
Jim DeRito, project manager