Resources Legacy Fund is partnering with the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) through the Open Rivers Fund to reconnect parts of the Upper Bear River in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. The partnership will benefit Bonneville Cutthroat Trout, recreational fishing, and ranchers who divert water for irrigation. The partnership will ultimately help fund thirteen restoration projects that will remove eleven push up diversion dams and nine additional barriers and restore stream and riparian habitat. The projects will address extreme bank erosion and land loss while improving habitat for an important fishery, upgrade aging and dilapidated irrigation infrastructure for private landowners, improve water supply reliability, and reduce O&M. Once completed, the restoration projects will open or reconnect 90.85 miles of river. Film courtesy of the Resources Legacy Fund.
“We are thrilled about this new collaboration between WNTI and Resources Legacy Fund that will benefit native fish, landowners, and recreationists in the Upper Bear River drainage,” said WNTI Coordinator Therese Thompson. “Successfully addressing native trout recovery is a landscape-scale problem that requires collaboration from all interested parties in both the public and private sectors.”
The Open Rivers Fund is a 10-year, $50 million program of Resources Legacy Fund, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It supports local community efforts to remove obsolete dams, modernize infrastructure, and restore rivers across the West. Resources Legacy Fund works with donors to create significant outcomes for the environment and for people.
Background: Multiple irrigation diversion structures and other barriers fragment the Upper Bear River drainage, which spans Northern Utah, Southeast Idaho, and Southwest Wyoming. The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) is working with the interagency Bonneville Cutthroat Trout Team (ID, NV, UT, WY) and its member state and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations to remove and replace aging infrastructure in order to protect Bonneville Cutthroat Trout (BCT) strongholds, restore habitat connectivity, provide fish passage, and enhance resilience to a changing climate by opening access to high-quality upstream habitats and cold, clean water on both public and private lands. This is a multi-year effort consisting of fifteen projects in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. Our on the ground partners are Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Trout Unlimited.