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Partnership Celebrates Progress: Upper Blackfoot River Cutthroat Trout Run Second Highest Since 2001


Idaho Department of Fish and Game Fishery Technicians Nate Heiner and Austin Young prepare to measure and tag migrating Yellowstone cutthroat trout at the fish trap on the Upper Blackfoot River.


For Immediate Release

June 4, 2020


Media Contact: Will Whelan, Facilitator

Upper Blackfoot Confluence

208-484-9779

wwhelan@upperblackfoot.org

https://www.upperblackfootconfluence.org


Partnership Celebrates Progress: Upper Blackfoot River Cutthroat Trout Run Second Highest Since 2001


(Soda Springs) Over the last four weeks, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) recorded the highest number of migrating Yellowstone cutthroat trout in years on the Upper Blackfoot River.


Arnie Brimmer, Regional Fishery Biologist with IDFG said: “We counted more than 1,300 mature trout at our station so far this year. That makes 2020 the second highest Yellowstone cutthroat run recorded since 2001. Because each mature female trout carries roughly 1,500 eggs, the annual migration is a major driver of fish abundance in this historic cutthroat stronghold.”


“This year’s spawning run is great news for anglers. It is also a big boost for the landowners, companies, agencies, and citizen groups who have worked for years to improve fish habitat in the Upper Blackfoot,” said Warren Colyer of Trout Unlimited and a member of the Upper Blackfoot Confluence (UBC).


Roger Gibson, who represents Bayer US on the UBC, said: “Our progress in restoring the Upper Blackfoot is thanks to the dedication of landowners, agencies, and conservation organizations. We are grateful for their hard work to ensure that the Upper Blackfoot will be a place where cutthroat trout thrive and where people can work and recreate for generations to come.”


Every April, large trout begin migrating upstream to spawn in the headwater streams of the Blackfoot River after spending 2-4 years in the highly productive waters of Blackfoot Reservoir.


The UBC is a voluntary partnership composed of three mining companies, (Bayer US, J.R. Simplot Company, and Nutrien) and two conservation groups (Trout Unlimited and the Idaho Conservation League).


The UBC will provide more than $220,000 this year for projects to improve trout habitat and water quality. The 2020 projects will:

  • Support a second year of work on a major river restoration project at the Blackfoot River Wildlife Management Area in partnership with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game;

  • Restore a stream channel on Chippy Creek in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Trout Unlimited;

  • Relocate a portion of the Diamond Creek Road that is subject to repeated washouts in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service;

  • Fund new fencing along Sheep Creek to aid stream restoration in partnership with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Bear Lake Grazing Company.

UBC will also continue grants to the Highlands Cooperative Weed Management Area for weed control in the upper basin.


Since UBC’s founding in 2011, the mining companies have worked through the partnership to provide more than $1.9 million for habitat projects in the Upper Blackfoot River. That investment has been matched with another $1.7 million in grants from state, federal and private sources. The projects are carried out by numerous agency and non-profit partners such as Trout Unlimited in cooperation with agriculture producers and landowners in the upper basin.

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