Diamond Creek & Lanes Creek Diversions Project
With new diversion structures and fish screens that facilitate upstream fish passage and prevent mortality, UBC, the Bear Lake Grazing Company, and other project partners have successfully opened twenty-five miles of spawning habitat for Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
Upper Lanes Creek Project
Through the installation of livestock exclusion fencing and off-channel watering facilities as well as extensive stream channel restoration, UBC, the Caribou Cattle Company, and other project partners are restoring and protecting nearly 10 miles of the furthest upstream reaches of Lanes Creek.
Lanes Creek Riparian & Recreational Trail Improvements Project
A U.S. Forest Service Project
In September 2013, U.S. Forest Service leaders attending the UBC fieldtrip were able to inspect our restoration work on Upper Lanes Creek. As one of two tributaries that form the Upper Blackfoot River, Upper Lanes Creek is critical Yellowstone cutthroat trout habitat. To date, UBC's most significant restoration efforts have focused there. Later that fall, these U.S. Forest Service leaders recommended undertaking restoration work on upstream tributaries in order to enhance UBC's ongoing Upper Lanes Creek restoration efforts. These upstream tributaries, located in the Caribou National Forest, are crossed by two recreational trails. Trail #088 crosses three perennial tributaries to Lanes Creek. Trail #022, which ties into Trail #088 and parallels the main stream of Lanes Creek, crosses the stream in an additional three locations and also encroaches on Lanes Creek. These crossings and encroachment contribute to unstable steam banks, riparian degradation, and erosion. Through the Lanes Creek Riparian and Recreational Trail Improvements Project, the U.S. Forest Service is undertaking restoration work that will address erosion, improve water quality and trout habitat, and enhance the ongoing UBC restoration work downstream.
Timothy Creek Restoration
Timothy Creek historically provided critical spawning and rearing habitat for migratory Yellowstone cutthroat trout from the Blackfoot River and supported a robust resident population. However, redd counts in recent years show a drastic decline in spawning use by Yellowstone cutthroat trout. One of the suggested explanations for the decline is habitat degradation in the Timothy Creek stream channel between Diamond Creek and the National Forest Boundary. Not only is spawning habitat now limited in this section, but an artificial stream split at a historical diversion site now dewaters the main channel and limits its function as a migration corridor to access quality spawning and rearing habitat upstream. Partnering with landowner Bear Lake Grazing Company, UBC will take restoration actions to address these impacts.
Sheep Creek Restoration
Historically, Sheep Creek supported some of the largest numbers of spawning Yellowstone cutthroat trout from the Blackfoot River found anywhere in the watershed. More recent redd counts show a drastic decline in spawner numbers. Sustained, intensive grazing has degraded habitat. Riparian woody vegetation is now completely absent, resulting in accelerated erosion and a straight, over-wide, and shallow channel. The Sheep Creek channel upstream from the Lanes Creek Road now appears to support almost no Yellowstone cutthroat trout spawning and has even become marginal as a migration corridor to access quality habitat further upstream. The channel's wide, shallow profile, coupled with the complete lack of cover, significantly increases exposure and predation risk, and in many places the stream lacks enough depth to even be navigable for larger, migratory fish. Partnering with landowner Bear Lake Grazing Company, UBC will undertake the restoration of Sheep Creek.
Highlands Cooperative Weed Management
A Natural Resources Conservation Service Project
At the suggestion of Larry Mickelsen, a Highlands CWMA board member, UBC will position itself as a partner to the Highlands CWMA by making a small contribution to purchase herbicide chemicals to control invasive weeds in the Blackfoot watershed. The Highlands CWMA hosts a “Blackfoot River Toadflax Day” in late July or August each year to raise awareness about noxious weeds. Last year over 50 landowners and local organizations participated, and the event was covered by local papers and media outlets.
Dredge Property Riparian Fencing and Off Stream Water Development Project
A Caribou County Soil & Water Conservation District Project
The main stem Blackfoot River corridor upstream from Blackfoot Reservoir has a history of intensive livestock grazing that has resulted in denuded riparian areas, unstable streambanks and accelerated erosion. Many of these areas have been restored in recent years simply by excluding cattle and allowing vegetation to recover. The Dredge property is one where cattle still have unrestricted access to the river, and, as a result, the streambanks and riparian corridor are currently degraded. The lack of vegetation has accelerated erosion, straightened the channel, and resulted in increased sediment and elevated water temperatures in this reach of the Blackfoot river. Landowner Drew Dredge wants to address these impacts through installing fence and an off-stream watering system to keep cattle out of the riparian area. The watering system will be solar-driven and include five watering troughs. The proposal is for UBC funds to pay for a well, pipeline, watering troughs, solar pump facility, and riparian fence. The Caribou County Soil and Water Conservation District is a primary partner on this project.