Bureau of Reclamation Funds Trout Unlimited Projects Across the West 

Infrastructure funding for water quality and reclamation projects will also benefit trout and salmon   

Sara Porterfield, Western Water Policy Advisor, Trout Unlimited, sara.porterfield@tu.org 
Drew YoungeDyke, National Communications Director, Trout Unlimited, drew.youngedyke@tu.org    

ARLINGTON, Va.—The Department of the Interior this week announced over $51 million in watershed and river restoration projects through the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Program, in addition to $51 million in the WaterSMART Environmental Water Resource Projects announced in November, funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021. The awards include $5.8 million for Trout Unlimited projects across the West.  

Trout Unlimited projects funded in these recent Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) awards will improve fish passage, water retention, agricultural irrigation, water quality, erosion, and aquatic habitat in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado.  

“These projects have substantive, on-the-ground benefits both for trout and salmon and people in the West through habitat restoration, irrigation infrastructure improvements, groundwater recharge, and reduced erosion and flood risk,” said Sara Porterfield, Western Water Policy Advisor for Trout Unlimited.  

In Montana, Trout Unlimited is partnering with the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program and the Clark Fork Coalition to design infrastructure improvements to 10 irrigation diversion sites in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin that will provide fish and boat passage, screen ditches, and improve water delivery. These improvements will benefit threatened bull trout and native West slope cutthroat trout. The BOR is awarding $594,000 toward the project. 

Trout Unlimited is working with the city of Boise, Idaho, to provide fish passage and improve aquatic habitat in the Boise River. The project will expand and enhance side channels bypassing the Arrowrock dams, create a fish passage facility at Barber Dam and reconnect 2.5 miles of the Boise River to riparian spawning habitat and a mile of side channel. The BOR is funding $734,000 of the $1.1 million project. 

In Colorado, Trout Unlimited is working with the Middle Colorado River Agriculture Collaborative to reconnect five miles of Elk Creek to fish passage, increase instream flows and increase irrigation efficiency by upgrading, relocating or combining six diversion structures to remove instream barriers to fish passage. The BOR is funding $3 million of the $4.85 million project. 

Finally, in partnership with Wyoming Game & Fish, Trout Unlimited is installing nature-based features in southwestern Wyoming’s Sage Creek, including 50 beaver dam analogs, 160 aggradation structures, and an invasive species barrier. The project will restore 453 acres of valley floor habitat, improve water retention and habitat in 5.6 miles of Sage Creek, reduce erosion, and protect almost 80 miles of native cutthroat trout habitat from invasive trout in the downstream Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The BOR is funding $1.5 million of the $2 million project. 

“Trout Unlimited thanks the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation for investing in each of these projects. For years, TU has worked with rural communities affected by drought to care for and sustain water supplies. These new awards will strengthen our efforts to build drought resilience across Montana, Idaho, Colorado, and Wyoming,” said Emily Olsen, TU’s Vice President for the Rocky Mountain Region.   

Learn more about TU’s work on water management at https://www.tu.org/conservation/conservation-areas/water-management/ 


Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to caring for and recovering America’s rivers and streams so our children can experience the joy of wild and native trout and salmon. Across the country, TU brings to bear local, regional and national grassroots organizing, durable partnerships, science-backed policy muscle, and legal firepower on behalf of trout and salmon fisheries, healthy waters and vibrant communities.