Friends of the Teton River (FTR) is a nationally recognized leader in science and community-based watershed protection and restoration. FTR was founded in 2001 by a diverse group of stakeholders, including farmers, anglers, scientists, agency personnel, and conservation interests who were concerned by declines in water quality and the Teton River fishery.
Among the founding members of FTR was life-long Teton Valley resident, Lyle Kunz. Kunz’s father, Alma, began running guided fishing trips on the Teton River in 1937. Lyle ran Alma’s Lodge for 30 years attracting visitors from all over the nation to fish the Teton River. In a journal entry from 2001, Lyle writes:
“I, with my family, began the first fishing lodge on the [Teton] river [and] almost before we new (sic) it, we began to see tourists from the east coast who knew about the fly fishing and said of the Teton that this is one of the best streams in the country.”
“Things on the river have changed radically beginning in the start of the nineties [1990’s]. Numbers of fish went way down. Drought conditions did not sustain the springs and spawning creeks went dry.”
“We began meeting in April bringing in the government agencies that wanted to address the problems. We have hydrology studies beginning…and in December we created a 501-c-3 corporation with a board of directors. We have named the corporation Friends of the Teton River…we have identified the major problems…and work to be done.”
Lyle Kunz, Founding Board Member (February 2001)
With little data available at the time, FTR conducted a variety of rigorous studies and research to learn about this unique watershed, its resource challenges, and opportunities for conservation success. Today, we work closely with a diverse group of local stakeholders, regional representatives, and state and federal agencies to implement on-the-ground projects/programs that protect, restore, and improve our waterways and water resources, so that they will be here for generations to come.
Partnerships, trust, and effective collaboration are fundamental to FTR’s success as an organization. Our vision is to be a model for watershed conservation that puts science into practice, celebrates a diverse culture of stewardship, and implements locally based solutions that support Teton Valley’s economy, ecology, and the community.