Sept 2008: A Busy Week for the Henrys Lake Foundation

This past year the Henrys Lake Foundation (HLF) embarked on an aggressive plan to fund five fishery improvement projects for $30,000. All of our projects are conducted in partnership with the Idaho Department of Fish Game (IDFG) and other related agencies. The projects span natural reproduction, hatchery reproduction, fishery management and water quality. The first project of 2008 was in February when the HLF purchased a $7000 egg separator for the fish trap.

The new separator has two wheels and is significantly faster than the old separator and dramatically reduces the overall person hours needed to separate live and dead eggs. The tributaries of Henrys Lake continue to receive a lot of attention ever since the inception of HLF 26 years ago. During the week of September 22nd we completed the screening of the last lateral diversions on Targhee and Howard Creeks. These were key milestones given the importance of these two tributaries. Now we can be secure in knowing that the fry and spawning fish are safe from being accidentally diverted into the grazing pastures of the ranches bordering those key tributaries.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to the respective landowners, Ray Clements and partners and Tom Cole.

Our project work didn’t end there. Also during the week of September 22nd, we completed stream restoration efforts on the Empey property on middle Duck Creek and Kelly Creek.

The project work consisted of 4 different parts: the first was to fence the creeks running through the property so that grazing cattle do not erode the stream banks, the second was to raise the creek level below the head gate spillway on Duck Creek to improve fish passage and the third was to provide cattle watering areas by hardening a portion of each stream bottom.

The Kelly Creek project work also included the installation of a culvert so ranch vehicles and cattle can cross the stream in the pasture. In conjunction with the foundation’s stream restoration efforts on lower Duck Creek and Kelly Creek completed in prior years, the entire section of Duck Creek from the lake to Red Rock road and Kelly Creek from the lake to Henrys Lake road is now protected from grazing cattle. Over the next couple years the stream banks will be naturally restored with the growth of tall grazes and willows sheltering the waters edge.

The reduction in silt will expose the natural pebbles and stones in the stream bottom, providing an ideal habitat for adfluvial fish.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to the landowner, Debbie Empey, for supporting our efforts.

The week of September 22nd was also special in that the fencing work on Duck Creek and Kelly Creek was completed by inmates from the Idaho Department of Corrections in St. Anthony.

Under the direction of IDFG personnel, Kim Ragotzkie, Barry Phillips, Nancy Olson, and Paul Franco, the inmates worked hard digging post holes and stringing fence wire. The weather cooperated nicely and although the mornings started out a little chilly the afternoons were sunny and warm.

The work sites could not have been more picturesque with creeks running through golden pastures to the lake, the yellow and oranges of the aspens turning and the majestic mountains in the background. Throughout the week, the inmates were treated to lunches served by the directors of the HLF foundation.

Each director took a turn preparing the lunches and serving them at the job sites. Double cheeseburgers, chili dogs, fried chicken, club sandwiches and pizza were all on the menu. To say the least, the inmates loved the lunches and looked forward the next day’s menu items. The directors took it as an opportunity to express their heartfelt thanks to the inmates for helping to improve the Henrys Lake fishery.

HLF extends special thanks to the IDFG screen shop personnel from Salmon, Idaho. The team led by Jim Jones and Jim Hardy are the go-to source for the design, construction and installation of our self-cleaning screens. In addition to the installation of the 2 new screens on Duck and Howard Creeks they also performed maintenance on our 7 older screens while here during the week of September 22nd.

Following the completion of their work efforts, Damon Keen from IDFG, commented that the tributaries, from a fisheries management perspective, are now in the best shape they have ever been over the last 15 years! Next year will be another big year for the foundation from a projects perspective. Four projects totaling $30,000 have already been approved by the HLF board for funding.

The first project involves replacing the 20-year old self-cleaning screen on lower Duck Creek on the Taft property. The old wooden structure is beyond repair. Although small, the diversion is one of the most important on this tributary since it is the one closest to the lake. The second project is very similar and involves the replacement of the self-cleaning screen on Targhee Creek. Again the old wooden structure is beyond repair.

The new structure will be a double wheel design to support the larger seasonal stream flows. Note: all the new screens are all steel and should last more than 20 years. The third project is to replace the four culverts on Red Rock road where Duck Creek and Rock Creek pass underneath.

This project to improve fish passage is being lead by Lee Mabey from the US Forest Service and Marla Vicks from Fremont County. The old galvanized culvert pipes are in dire need of replacement especially those that are barriers to adfluvial fish migrating from the lake during the spawning season.

The fourth project is to install automated water temperature and flow sensors in Targhee, Howard and Duck Creeks so that a historical database can be compiled to monitor the flows of these tributaries in conjunction with natural spawn production.

By tracking these key tributary attributes, we will better understand the potential benefits of restocking the tributaries in conjunction with the stocking of the lake.

The Henrys Lake Foundation would like to gratefully acknowledge the participation of our partners that help make all our projects possible. They include: Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) US Fish and Wildlife US Forest Service (USFS) Idaho Department of Agriculture Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Idaho Department of Water Resources Idaho Department of Lands Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation Idaho Department of Transportation Bureau of Reclamation Corp of Engineers (COE) Fremont County Fremont County Weed Control National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) You can visit the foundation website for further information on how to become involved in these projects and associated fund raising efforts.