Henry's Fork Shows Value of Small TributariesWritten by Stan Backlund
Four years ago, the Henry's Fork Foundation, HFF, completed a study examining the role small caldera tributaries play in young wild trout survival. Findings from this study showed that young trout migrate to smaller creek systems - like Fish Creek- in the late fall, when habitat from the main Henry's Fork becomes limited due to reduced river flow or reduced macrophyte.
In 2012, HFF in partnership with the USFS worked to improve altered habitat on Fish Creek by re-routing it back to its original channel bed. Years of straightening, grazing, and irrigation had decreased the quality of in-stream habitat available to young trout, decreasing their odds of finding suitable winter habitat. A deeper, narrow channel should improve winter survival.
Earlier this month, with the help from BYU-Idaho students and USFS personnel, HFF re-visited Fish Creek and found increased trout use throughout restored sections, indicating that restoration efforts were successful in increasing winter habitat availability for our wild trout. HFF will continue to monitor seasonal trout use in Fish Creek throughout 2015.