Irrigators on Trail Creek were left “high and dry” when a check-dam at the Tonks Canal diversion blew-out last spring (2018), leaving a cement barrier to fish passage and no effective way to manage the diversion. Looking for a solution, the irrigators and FTR began discussing a replacement that would meet the needs of both farmers and fish. A series of rock weirs were installed this September that will ensure that irrigators receive their water rights and that fish will be able to utilize the step-pools at all flow levels. This fish-friendly design will also help prevent entrapment of fish in the canal. This project is a win-win for Trail Creek irrigators and cutthroat trout, and demonstrates a unique willingness of the farming and ranching community to choose conservation-minded solutions. FTR worked with the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission and the Teton Water User’s Association, with funding from the Jackson Hole One Fly Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
After Bill D’Evelyn purchased a property on the upper Teton River in 2016, he reached out to FTR Restoration Director Mike Lien with questions about restoring some eroding streambanks. While a willing landowner spends the majority of their own time and money on a project like this, FTR provided help with a geomorphic assessment (which evaluates stream conditions and functionality) so that he could move forward with a plan to restore almost 2,000 linear feet of valuable Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout habitat and water quality in a section of Teton River that was previously overgrazed. In addition to technical assistance, FTR also helped secure grant funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, which provides cost-share incentives directly to private landowners to restore fish and wildlife habitats.
FTR and Teton Creek landowners have been leading stream channel restoration efforts (on more than two miles of stream) since 2006. The next section of substantial flood risk concern (downstream of Cemetery Road Bridge to Creekside Meadows subdivision) falls within the jurisdiction of the City of Driggs. With an interest in protecting its citizens and infrastructure, the city is taking a leadership role in applying for federal grant assistance that’s available to government entities. FTR is working closely with the city, the Flood Control District, and Teton Creek stakeholders to help secure grant funding to continue this multi-million dollar mitigation effort.