The National Fish Habitat Partnership 10 Waters to Watch list, assembled by the nation’s leading authorities on aquatic conservation, is a collection of rivers, streams and shores that will be cleaner and healthier habitats for the many fish and wildlife species and people who call these areas home. Thanks to the combined actions of concerned community groups, non-profit organizations, local watershed groups, Native American tribes and state and federal agencies, these waters are being improved by planting stream-side vegetation, removing structures blocking fish from habitat and protecting bodies of water from the effects of industrial processes, agriculture and livestock. They are representative of freshwater to marine waters across the country including lakes and reservoirs that are improving through the conservation efforts of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan — a bold initiative to reverse persistent declines in aquatic habitat.
Sun Creek originates on the southern slopes of Crater Lake National Park (CLNP) and was historically a tributary to the Wood River in the Upper Klamath Basin. Due to agricultural land use there have been extensive channel alterations over the last century and Sun Creek is no longer connected to the Wood River. This project will reconnect Sun Creek to the Wood River, creating a migratory corridor for an isolated bull trout population and expanding available habitat for redband trout already present in the Wood River. This project represents a highly successful collaboration between federal, state, tribal, non-profit, and private entities.
The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) funded Phases I and II that provided short-term immediate relief for sediment issue on Bear Creek in 2010 and 2011. These projects were meant to protect the Bear Creek cutthroat habitat until a broader sediment control plan was in place. In 2013 WNTI funded a portion of Phase III, which, coupled with a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, will provide permanent sediment control for the Bear Creek Greenback cutthroat trout, which have been recently considered the only remaining population of true native Greenback Cutthroat trout.
This project is intended to protect native fishes and improve water use efficiency for water companies in the Weber River drainage. It will re-connect 17.5 total river miles and allow native trout and sucker species to pass one mainstem diversion and two culvert barriers in two tributaries. Habitat fragmentation is the primary threat to the persistence of the Bonneville cutthroat trout population. These barriers have fragmented mainstem and spawning habitats. Restoring connectivity at these sites is a critical step towards improving the resiliency and genetic diversity of this population.
Both the Desert Fish Habitat Partnership and the Western Native Trout Initiative, have recognized the outstanding aquatic resources of the Green River Basin. Both partnerships support projects, directly and indirectly, that benefit fish populations and habitat in ways that place local projects within a larger basin-wide perspective.
Degradation of stream channels has contributed to a 95% decline in native Yellowstone cutthroat trout (YCT) numbers in the Teton River. Teton Creek, the largest of the Teton River headwater tributaries, is critical to YCT recovery since it is one of the only tributaries in Teton Valley that still has a YCT spawning run. Teton Creek also produces more juvenile YCT than any other tributary. Over a mile of Teton Creek was severely damaged when a developer straightened, widened, and dredged the stream.
Even in the best of times, good habitat for trout is a scarce commodity in northeastern Utah. But for the Bonneville cutthroat trout, Utah’s state fish, a little more habitat is about to be accessible. The Bonneville cutthroat is one of 14 recognized subspecies of Cutthroat trout native to the western United States. Once also found in Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada, the fish is now limited to small isolated populations in the headwaters of mountain streams and lakes of Utah’s Bonneville Drainage Basin.