First phase of Rock Creek complete

Trout Unlimited is working with Rock Creek Ranch owners, The Nature Conservancy and the Wood River Land Trust, to restore river habitat that has been impacted by years of grazing.

alt=”” title=”” />The Rock Creek Ranch, located near Hailey, was purchased in 2014 by The Nature Conservancy and the Wood River Land Trust from private landowner, Harry Rinker and his family. The 10,400-acre ranch encompasses the entire Rock Creek drainage southwest of Hailey and consists of high-quality sagebrush-steppe habitat, aspen forest, and river miles along Rock Creek.

The protection of the area aligns with state and federal efforts to conserve sage grouse. Through a land-use agreement with The Natural Resource Conservation Service, the property is managed to conserve the area’s grasslands and to prevent future development.

Phase one of the Rock Creek Restoration and Reconnection Project was completed last fall. Work consisted of grading and sloping about one-third of a mile of stream bank, planting nearly 1,000 willows, re-activating a section of historic stream channel, enhancing in-stream channel and habitat, and re-seeding disturbed areas with native grasses, sedges, and rushes.

Phase two of the project, scheduled for fall 2017, will include the removal of several fish passage barriers. Additional stream restoration and habitat enhancement work will also be performed.

By Shauna Stephenson.