2016 WNTI Small Grants funding recipients

The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) awarded $31,965 to 12 project proposals this year, matched by $468,575 in other public and private funding, for a total projects’ value of $500,540.  WNTI gratefully thanks our partners at Bass Pro Shops, Orvis, Sierra Pacific Fly Fishers, Blue Valley Ranch, and all our individual donors for supporting our 2016 Small Grants Program!


Arizona

Arizona's Apache Trout - Get to Know Your Native

Grant Applicant: Arizona Council, Trout Unlimited. 

Grant Summary: This project is a coordinated education and outreach effort focusing on raising awareness for the native Apache Trout in Arizona.  TU and their partners will develop a brochure/poster that educates the public about Apache Trout biology, evolutionary history, habitat needs, threats, current status, and support needed to eventually move Apache Trout from its current Threatened status.  WNTI funds for this project will be spent on materials to produce brochures and posters to be distributed by the agencies and partners at their discretion.  The goal is to outreach to diverse organizations and communities – especially classrooms and youth groups. 


California

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout recovery interpretive panel

Grant Applicant: Southwest Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers.

Grant Summary: Silver Creek, a tributary to the West Walker River in Mono County, California, is a Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (LCT) Recovery water that was illegally stocked with brook trout several years ago.  The International Federation of Fly Fishers and its local clubs, along with CalTrout and Trout Unlimited, mobilized volunteers and funds to support California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife  during three successful years of electrofishing to provide a refuge for the LCT, with this coming season being Year Four.  This grant is to fund an interpretive panel design/construction to inform and educate the public about the negative impacts of illegal stocking on native ecosystems, and urge fishermen to participate in the Heritage Trout Program, a program designed by California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife to restore opportunities for anglers to catch California's native trout. The interpretive panel will describe 1) the recreational value of the LCT; 2) the uniqueness of the LCT and its habitat needs; 3) the multi-entity effort to sustain the LCT in its native range and the work done to remove the illegally planted non-native invasive Brook Trout in Silver Creek.


Colorado

Restoration of Colorado's State Fish, the Greenback Cutthroat Trout

Grant Applicant: Colorado Trout Unlimited.

Grant Summary: This project will support increased survival of Greenback Cutthroat Trout raised in state and federal hatcheries, and provide outreach about the efforts to restore the Greenback Cutthroat Trout to the South Platte River Basin.  Project proponents will 1) purchase small rearing tanks for the development of Greenback Cutthroat Trout fry at Mt. Shavano Hatchery in Salida, Colorado; 2) create signage about Greenback Cutthroat Trout and restoration efforts along the Colorado Front Range for placement at Mt. Shavano Hatchery, Leadville National Fish Hatchery, Zimmerman Lake, Herman Gulch and Rock Creek; and 3) create an information technology infrastructure to collect, store, analyze, re-use data, photographs and videos, and coordinate  volunteer efforts in support of Greenback restoration.

 

Trout on Tejon

Grant Applicant: Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Grant Summary: This project is one component of a multi-pronged outreach effort to the Colorado Springs, Colorado, community about Greenback Cutthroat Trout and specifically the population of 600 Greenbacks that reside in Bear Creek, just outside of Colorado Springs.  For this component of the outreach effort, a series of 12 metal Greenback Cutthroat Trout sculptures will be installed on Tejon Street (a main street in downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado) “hidden” in or around local businesses.  A story about the Greenbacks and a set of clues will be included in the tourist bureau’s Visitor’s Guide/map of the city to allow adventurous tourists, locals, and children to discover these hiding places and learn more about the Greenback Cutthroat Trout. 

 

Bear Creek Watershed/Jones Park Restoration: Directional and Interpretive Signage

Grant Applicant: El Paso County, Colorado.

Grant Summary: Located west of Colorado Springs on the east side of Pikes Peak, the Bear Creek Watershed is home to what is believed to be the last known population of the genetically pure, federally threatened Greenback cutthroat trout, which Colorado designated as the state fish in  1994.  Within the Bear Creek Watershed and completely surrounded by U.S. Forest Service land, El Paso County owns and manages 1,191 acres of property known as Jones Park, home to a very popular trail system. El Paso County Parks and a strong contingent of partners are working to maintain the integrity of the Jones Park and Bear Creek Watershed ecosystem.  An objective of establishing stream functionality is to significantly increase pool habitat and cover for the trout, thereby providing substantially higher density and biomass than currently exists. The work will also include trail management such as closing and rehabilitating adjacent trails and/or rerouting the trails away from the stream. WNTI funds will be used to design, purchase and install 20 directional signs and 2 interpretive panels incorporating educational information designed to show the relationship of the Greenback Cutthroat Trout and its aquatic habitat to the surrounding ecosystems and recreational opportunities.


Montana

Sucker Creek Westslope Cutthroat Trout Passage Project

Grant Applicant: Big Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Grant Summary: Sucker Creek is a third-order tributary to Keep Cool Creek in the upper Blackfoot River watershed north of Lincoln, Montana. The stream supports Westslope Cutthroat Trout which have been identified as a pure strain. This project has been identified as a priority under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and will address the existing stream crossing on U.S. Forest Service land that is undersized, impedes fish passage during high flow periods, and creates impairments to the channel. The existing culvert will be replaced with a pipe-arch that will allow uninhibited aquatic organism passage and replicate the stream bed up and down stream of the crossing. This project will restore access to 1.5 miles of habitat and is part of a larger effort in the Blackfoot Watershed to work collaboratively across the watershed with a diverse group of stakeholders.  Tours will be led to the project site and will include local schools and members of the community to talk about the importance of native trout and limitations to their recovery. Local students will also help collect willow cuttings for the revegetation phase of the project.  Click here to read the final report.

 

Dry Cottonwood Cross-boundary Trout Conservation

Grant Applicant: Clark Fork Coalition.

Grant Summary: This project will address fish passage and habitat quality issues on private and public lands within the 23-square mile Dry Cottonwood drainage of the Upper Clark Fork River.  Secured funding for this project will remove one of the major known fish barrier culverts in the drainage, to enhance a conservation population of Westslope Cutthroat Trout by reconnecting 3.2 miles of fish habitat to the mainstem of the creek.  The WNTI Small Grant funds will be used to expand habitat assessment and monitoring of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout population in this drainage by the Clark Fork Coalition and University of Montana Ecosystem Science and Restoration Program. 

 

Temperature and Sediment Reduction to Improve Stream Health and Fish Habitat

Grant Applicant: Bitter Root Water Forum.

Grant Summary: This project’s goal is to effectively enhance and restore Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Bull Trout habitat along more than one mile of over-grazed land on the East Fork of the Bitterroot River.  Specifically, this project will recreate a healthy riparian area and natural stream channel more conducive to trout health by: fencing out one mile of stream to prevent grazing, planting 600+ cottonwoods and native shrubs along the waterway, and narrowing the channel to a more natural width after years of widening (and therefore increased thermal loading).  Six or more volunteer days on the project site will give community members firsthand experience and knowledge of the situation and their ability to make a positive impact for the fishery.  The Forum will also outreach to area residents through newsletters, presentations to local clubs, press releases, Facebook posts, and e-newsletters.


Nevada

Exploration Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (LCT) Camp

Grant Applicant: Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum.

Grant Summary: The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum is the only science center in Northern Nevada.  The Museum recently created a pilot curriculum “Exploration LCT” Camp to engage students in learning about Nevada’s Great Basin watershed and local “Monster Fish,” the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (LCT), living within its rivers and lakes.  The core objective of this grant is to further develop, replicate and successfully deliver two additional weeks of the 5day “Exploration LCT” Camp in fall 2016 and/or spring 2017.  “Exploration LCT” is designed to take 3rd through 7th graders deeper into the conservation and other issues surrounding the LCT, its habitat, and the larger watershed. The program engages 1822 “Exploration LCT” Camp participants during each 5day camp, covering information on LCT biology, stream habitat, native versus nonnative fish, and scientific tools for researching cold water species like the LCT.  “Exploration LCT” explores the LCT and Northern Nevada’s watershed by physically traveling to locations including Lake Tahoe, down the Truckee River, and finishing at Pyramid Lake. This experience provides campers with a visual and spatial representation of the watershed’s directional flow and habitats in which the LCT lives.   Click here to read the brochure about the Exploration LCT Camp program.


Oregon

Bum Creek Instream Restoration

Grant Applicant: Smith River Watershed Council.

Grant summary: This is the final phase of a multi-year collaborative effort to rehabilitate aquatic habitat conditions and aquatic populations in Bum Creek, Oregon. The objectives of this project are to improve instream conditions for the spawning and rearing of salmonids. Located 35 miles Northwest of Roseburg, Oregon, Bum Creek provides important summer and winter habitat for Coastal Cutthroat Trout, winter Steelhead, Chinook salmon, Oregon Coast Coho Salmon, an array of amphibians, pacific and brook lamprey. Willow cuttings, western red cedar, hemlock, grand fir and Douglas fir will be planted by project partners, school groups, and volunteers.

 

Sprague River Restoration 2016

Grant Applicant: Klamath Lake Land Trust.

Grant summary: This project is taking place on a 316-acre parcel of land that encompasses a mile of the Sprague River, located in south-central Oregon. It is part of a larger, three-phased project designed to recover fish spawning grounds and off-channel rearing habitat, improve water quality, and reduce thermal stress for native bull and redband trout. The project will add high-quality, complex habitat to an agricultural area that is otherwise marginal habitat. This section of the Sprague River is home to Upper Klamath Basin Redband Trout and is a migration route for Bull Trout and 10 other species found on the Oregon Conservation Strategy (OCS) list.  Measureable objectives of this project include the planting of 2,000 native riparian plants, with a survival rate of > 50%.  Read the final report.


Washington

Redband Trout Thermal Habitat Assessment

Grant Applicant: Spokane Riverkeeper/Center for Justice.

Grant Summary: The Spokane Riverkeeper will conduct a temperature study that will provide a reach by reach assessment of thermal regimes in order to prioritize the restoration of stream habitat that supports Columbia Basin interior Redband Trout.  Thirty-five temperature loggers will be deployed in the main stem of Hangman Creek and several tributaries in order to assess temperature regimes in various reaches and tributaries in the Washington portion of the Hangman Creek Basin.  Continuous water temperature data will be collected from six creeks and used to build an assessment of thermal conditions of existing habitats in the main stem of Hangman Creek and identified tributaries.  A report will compare temperature data to Washington State standards for interior Redband Trout and identify the best and worst thermal reaches in terms of redband trout habitat, and data shared with the Spokane Tribe and the Spokane Falls Chapter of Trout Unlimited to generate thermal cover/riparian restoration priorities that can guide the long term recovery of Redband Trout habitats in the watershed.  Additionally, a short video will be produced to outreach to the public as to the status of native trout in the basin and recovery efforts.