The Snake River Headwaters Initiative is working to make streams healthier, water cleaner, and fishing better, now and for future generations, in one of the last, best places for cutthroat trout. 

In the rivers and streams around Jackson Hole, Wyoming, community and conservation are strategically aligned to conserve, protect and restore a special native trout stronghold. 

The headwaters of the Snake River are a dynamic place, carved by glaciers and snowmelt coursing through the jagged peaks and valleys of the Teton and Gros Ventre Ranges, in the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The underwater network formed by the mainstem Snake River, freestone tributaries, and spring creeks, is largely intact, providing cold, clean water and a diversity of connected habitats for native Snake River cutthroat trout – the only remaining subspecies of cutthroat trout in the West that still dominates in its home range – as well as other native aquatic species. This unique Snake River cutthroat trout population is one of the reasons why TU believes this watershed is so important to conserve, protect, and restore.  

A Cutthroat Paradise

We recommend the cover story of the Summer 2020 issue of Jackson Hole Magazine as a resource for learning more about the importance of this watershed for cutthroat trout in the West, and why TU and partners think it’s worth fighting for. 

Our Story, Our Impact

TU’s Snake River Headwaters Initiative was launched in 2016 as a partnership between Trout Unlimited and the Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited chapter to ensure that this unique native cutthroat trout fishery remains intact and thrives long into the future.

Since then, our impact and presence in the community has grown exponentially, and the Initiative has become a model for similar “Home River Initiative” efforts between TU and local chapters around the country.  

Our impact, 2016-2023:

  • 15 on-the-ground projects completed 
  • 36+ miles reconnected 
  • 14.5 miles restored 
  • 65+ conservation partners 
  • $9.2M invested 
  • 1,525 students educated 

Our strategies

Stream reconnection

Reconnecting migration corridors for cutthroat trout by removing fish barriers like irrigation diversions and undersized culver

Habitat restoration

Restoring habitat, healthy stream conditions, and water quality for cutthroat trout and other native aquatic species.

Watershed leadership

Developing a conservation strategy for the upper Snake River and its tributaries together with partners and stakeholders in the watershed.

Youth education

Educating local students about the watershed through the Adopt-a-Trout Program to inspire the next generation of conservation stewards. 

Explore our projects

Find out more about our on-the-ground conservation projects in our Snake River Headwaters Initiative Story Map. 

Our vision for the Snake River Headwaters is to continue to do all we can to foster resiliency and provide access to high-quality habitat for our Snake River cutthroat trout. We believe that if we can counter the impacts of human development, land and water management practices, and climate change across the watershed, the fish will be able to care of themselves, and we may be able to hang onto this area as one of the last, best places for cutthroat trout in the West.  

Get involved

Today, our reputation as a trusted, leading organization working on fisheries and water-related issues in the watershed allows us to respond to timely needs and complex issues throughout the Snake River Headwaters watershed, like water quality, prolonged drought, and associated research and monitoring efforts.

In order to carry out our vision for the future of the Snake River Headwaters, we will need your support and the support of a robust community of partners, supporters, researchers, local businesses, guides, volunteers, and chapter members to implement a portfolio of stream reconnection and habitat restoration projects and lead new collaborative, science-supported solutions to address emerging issues in the watershed that affect people and fish alike. 

You can support these efforts through the following links by making a donation to Trout Unlimited (checks preferred, please designate your gift to “Snake River Headwaters” in the memo line or contact us to let us know of your gift designation), getting involved with and following the Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited chapter, volunteering with us, and signing up for our email newsletter.  

Leslie Steen, NW Wyoming Program Director for TU oversees the Snake River Headwaters Initiative.

Contact us

We’d love to hear from you! Contact NW Wyoming Program Director Leslie Steen for more information.  

Field Notes

Hear from our field staff and partners about the importance and impact of the Snake River Headwaters Initiative

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