The innovative project will reestablish a thriving riparian zone and install bioengineered bank stabilization treatments throughout the floodplain to improve habitat and connectivity for all life stages of Snake River Cutthroat Trout, promote bank and channel stability, and reduce erosion and land loss.
- Leslie Steen, Wyoming State Director, Trout Unlimited – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mark Gocke, Wyoming Game and Fish Department – email@example.com
- Mary Cernicek, Bridger-Teton National Forest Public Affairs Officer- firstname.lastname@example.org 307-739-5564
- Walter Wehtje, Executive Director, Ricketts Conservation Foundation email@example.com
SUBLETTE COUNTY, DATE – A collaborative effort to improve fish habitat, fish passage, stream stability, and agricultural operations is underway on one of the most degraded sections of the upper Hoback River. The second phase of the River Bend Ranch Restoration and Fish Passage Project, which is slated for completion this month, will restore 2.5-miles of the river corridor to improve conditions for native Snake River Cutthroat Trout. This phase follows the installation of a new rock diversion to improve fish passage and water delivery for irrigation, completed in 2019.
The collaborative project is located on the upper Hoback River, a tributary of the Snake River in Sublette County, WY, on a mixture of private agricultural lands, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department elk feedground, and Bridger-Teton National Forest lands. The upstream end of the project area begins 2.5 miles upstream of the Bondurant, WY post office, and ends downstream at the Highway 191 bridge over the Hoback River.
“The Upper Hoback River is a crown jewel of streams flowing out of the Wyoming Range. Collaborative stream bank projects, where all landowners contribute, are critical to the health and stability of the entire Snake River Headwaters,” said David Cernicek, Wild and Scenic River Manager, Bridger-Teton National Forest.
The innovative project will reestablish a thriving riparian zone and install bioengineered bank stabilization treatments throughout the floodplain to improve habitat and connectivity for all life stages of Snake River Cutthroat Trout, promote bank and channel stability, and reduce erosion and land loss. Techniques include installation of “brush bank” structures that utilize a mosaic of brush, logs, and trees with rootwads to provide stability at the margins of the river, and riparian fencing “pods” that allow cottonwoods and willows to grow and provide habitat.
“In addition to the streambank work, riparian exclosures are being installed to allow willows and cottonwoods to grow above the browse height of elk and deer,” said Wyoming Game and Fish Jackson Aquatic Habitat Biologist Holden Reinert. “Fostering a healthy riparian area will promote self-sustaining habitats that benefit both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.”
“Through the River Bend Ranch Project, we are not just restoring a degraded section of the river, but we are also revitalizing an important ecosystem and supporting stewardship by local landowners,” said Leslie Steen, Trout Unlimited’s Wyoming State Director. “Our goal is to provide high quality stream habitat for native Snake River Cutthroat Trout, as well as foster a more resilient landscape.”
“Over the past several years we’ve enjoyed working with Trout Unlimited to improve stream habitat along the upper Hoback River. With their guidance we have taken several steps on Jackson Fork Ranch to do our part to reduce erosion and bring back riparian vegetation along this important native cutthroat waterway,” said Walter Wehtje, Director of the Ricketts Conservation Foundation.
This project is possible through collaboration with several partners, including Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jackson Fork Ranch, Jackson Hole One Fly, Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited, Ricketts Conservation Foundation, River Bend Ranch, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, TU Embrace-A-Stream, Water for Wildlife Foundation, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative, Western Native Trout Initiative, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust, Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition, and Wyoming Water Development Commission. The project includes funding from a $40 million national partnership between Trout Unlimited and the U.S. Forest Service funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021.
The River Bend Ranch Restoration and Fish Passage Project is a project of TU’s Snake River Headwaters Initiative, an ambitious initiative to restore and protect the headwaters of the Snake River and its fishery, together with a diverse group of community, landowner, and agency partners.