Oct 2019: 2019 Projects Report
For more 2019 Project details, read our 2019 HLF Newsletter
Henrys Lake Tributary Diversion Project
Most Henrys Lake anglers know that fishing success near Duck Creek is dependent on summer flows. During drought years, little water flows to the mouth and fish don’t congregate.
Likewise, spawning and rearing habitat in this vital Henrys tributary is minimal during poor water years. Side channels dry up and stream temperatures increase, making it unsuitable for fingerling rearing.
Simply stated, increase flows in Duck Creek and you increase fishing opportunity and improve habitat for Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
In 2015, the Henrys Lake Technical Committee formed to identify and prioritize fish habitat projects on Henrys Lake. The group identified the Duck Creek drainage as the number one priority. A project on Rock Creek (the largest tributary to Duck Creek) installing diversion control structures would increase flows by diverting water during periods when landowner irrigation was unnecessary.
In the winter of 2018, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Fisheries Manager-Brett High, coordinated efforts with the USFS, the Henrys Lake Foundation, and local landowners to initiate the project. Landowners Mike Moedl and Lynn Briggs had approved the project. Fabrication for the metal structures began under the supervision of USFS employees Lee Mabey and Louis Wasniewski. Construction site work was provided by Darin Schneider from IDFG. Project funding was provided by the Henrys Lake Foundation and grants.
In October 2019 the diversion structures were installed. In the spring of 2020 flumes will be added to monitor flows and reduce erosion.
Sawtell Peak and the Centennial mountains maintain winter snows well into late summer. From these snowy fields, Rock Creek flows. Thanks to this collaborative effort and dedicated landowners, water flowing from this tributary will now contribute to Duck Creek. Fish habitat will be improved and anglers will benefit. For over three decades, fish habitat improvement projects have been implemented on Henrys Lake. The Henrys Lake Foundation has provided funding, technical expertise, collaboration skills and labor to most of these projects. We are pleased to see our members’ contributions go towards projects that benefit fish habitat and angler opportunity.
Henrys Lake Foundation Funds Continuing Research
University of Idaho graduate student Darcy McCarrick has been studying factors influencing YCT populations in Henrys Lake utilizing radio telemetry transmitters. Last year Darcy tagged 50 YCT and 50 Utah Chub and studied their movement with fixed telemetry receivers placed in tributaries and with mobile tracking from a boat.
The purpose of this study is to determine the extent YCT populations are influenced by Utah Chub, and whether competition for food, prey resources, or space (thermal refuge) are playing a role. The study objective is to study movement and habitat use in the lake by both species. Results will identify possible interactions and provide insight that can be useful in the management of the fishery.
Because of the small sampling size, Darcy requested funding to extend the study to another year with deployment of an additional 50 tags for each species. Henrys Lake Foundation Board approved $5000 for expenses on this project, to supplement additional funding provided by Idaho Department of Fish and Game. We look forward to having more information on the results of this ongoing study.
In addition to the above projects, HLF continues to look for opportunities to improve riparian corridors along tributaries to improve water quality to the lake. This includes cattle fencing which includes fencing off the creeks and shoreline, providing watering gaps for cattle, hardening the crossings to reduce siltation, and maintaining continuity of fence lines. Several priority areas were identified for 2020. HLF is also continuing to look at tributary habitats in the south and west sides for potential improvements. Although no specific projects have been identified, the HL Project Team continues to discuss opportunities for future work.
The Henry’s Lake Foundation recently presented a $2000 grant to North Fremont High School for use in their FFA Aquaculture program.
In a statement from the Henry’s Lake Foundation: We are very pleased to work with the faculty, staff, and students of North Fremont High School. Henry’s Lake Foundation looks at this partnership as an opportunity to help the Aquaculture program not only with some financial support but by being able to share our many years of experience and knowledge to advance the learning opportunities of the students.
By supporting programs such as this, the benefits to the Henry’s Lake fishery are immediately recognizable. We are dedicated to see that we can develop the interest of local students to become professionals in the field. Also, to see that the riparian habits of the tributaries are protected and spend considerable time and monies for fencing the tributary streams, screening the irrigation diversions, improving culverts, hardening stream bottoms where cattle water and planting willows. They can now support a growing population of adfluvial fish and more readily serve as nurseries for developing fry. In addition to our natural production project work, we have projects in hatchery production, fisheries management and water quality.
The Henrys Lake Hatchery has a new Henrys Lake Fisheries Biologist, Jennifer Vincent. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game hosted approximately 75 people Friday night at the Hatchery facility on Henrys Lake, to meet Jenn and talk fishing. Henrys Lake Foundation and the Drift Lodge helped with the burgers and hot dog dinner including home-made sides and desserts.
Jenn will be responsible for collecting research data on fish and helping develop priorities for various fisheries projects. She will provide information about fish resources, regulations and policies to the public; analyze habitat quality and recommend and implement projects to improve fish habitat, including working with landowners who have streams on their property and want to improve them for fish. Basically, what this all means is she will continue the Hatchery’s efforts to improve fish habitat around Henrys Lake.
Jenn says, “I am really enjoying being up at Henrys Lake and I look forward to continuing to work with landowners and the Henrys Lake Foundation to improve fishing at Henrys Lake.”
Before coming to Island Park, Jenn was a Fisheries Biologist in Ontario, Canada, and she has also worked previously with Idaho Fish and Game, as well as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. She earned her Master’s degree at Trent University in Canada and her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
Richard Hodge, VP of Henrys Lake Foundation, said, “We have partnered with Fish and Game and the Henry’ Lake Hatchery for many years to improve fishing on Henrys Lake. We welcome Jenn to Island Park and we look forward to working with her and continuing our partnership with Fish and Game on fish habitat improvement projects throughout the lake and its tributaries for years to come.”
As printed in the Post Register – Dan Garren recently took over as supervisor for the Southeast Region of Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Garren, who’s based at the regional office in Pocatello, has more than 25 years of experience in Fish and Game agencies from three different states.
However, he said he is excited to be a regional supervisor in Idaho, a state whose citizens, he said, are highly engaged with Fish and Game. “Essentially we’re trying to provide opportunities for recreation,” Garren said. “And when you have an active and engaged sporting public, you just know that people appreciate the opportunities that you’re providing out there. I would 10 times rather have an active pubic than one that’s kind of disengaged from the resource.”
As regional supervisor, Garren oversees all management programs within his region. “Basically everything that Fish and Game is doing falls under the responsibility of the regional supervisor.”
Garren previously served as regional fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Idaho Falls. And though the Southeast Region is, as any other region, often buzzing with activity, Garren said he plans to spend his first few weeks on the job learning. “I certainly didn’t come in with an agenda,” he said. “I look at my role right now as just trying to learn. I’m in a learning phase right now trying to get up to speed on what’s historically been done and where we want to go in the future.”
But Garren already has shown interest in some of the region’s activities. He was one of the voices that expressed concern over Pocatello’s Wildlife Feeding Ordinance, which was recently proposed to the Pocatello City Council by the Urban Wildlife Task Force. The council agreed to further discuss the ordinance during a work study session, but the ordinance was pulled from the agenda after Garren, among others, took issue with the complicated prospect of enforcement of the ordinance. Garren said that, though Fish and Game serves as a technical adviser to the task force, the future of the ordinance was primarily up to the members of the task force themselves.
“We can provide the science behind different management options to the technical committee, but they’re really the drivers behind this,” Garren said. “And they’re the ones that need to work with city council to get an appropriate rule in place that the city council buys off on and that meets the objectives of the technical group.”
For the most part, though, Garren said he is still learning the ropes of the region. “I think the challenge for me is going to be getting up to speed on the issues as fast as they’re coming at us,” he said. “You come in to work thinking that you’re going to be working on a specific topic, and the reality is that you’re probably going to get something you weren’t even expecting. The diversity is pretty substantial, and I enjoy that.” He added that he has also enjoyed working with the region’s staff, who he said have been instrumental in helping him adjust to his new position.
“The exciting part is walking into a region where the staff is engaged and knowledgeable about the issues and willing to work with the public,” Garren said. “I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the staff and their engagement.” Overall, Garren said he looks forward to interacting with “these resources and these customers” in his new role and asked that the public be open. “I’d love to hear from people,” he said. “I’d love to hear thoughts and concerns about our programs as a whole and get a better understanding of what our public wants.”
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho
The Bureau of Land Management of Idaho Falls District is requesting public input on plans for additional recreational access and opportunities on the western and eastern shores of Henrys Lake. Fremont County submitted a proposal to BLM to expand Bill Frome Park, located on the northwest shore of Henrys Lake. As part of a holistic approach to the development, the BLM is also considering how to develop and/or manage public land areas along the lake’s south shore.
“Public input is key at this juncture,” said Jeremy Casterson, Upper Snake Field Manager. “We need assistance from individuals who recreate in that area to help determine how things should proceed.”
As part of the proposal, the BLM has developed several alternatives for both Frome Park and the South Shore. Maps of all eight proposals (Frome Park alternatives A, B, C, D and South Shore alternatives A, B, C, D) and descriptions are available online for public review and comment at the Dept. of the Interior, BLM website: https://go.usa.gov/xPnQR. Hard copies are also available at the Upper Snake Field Office located at 1405 Hollipark Dr. Idaho Falls, Idaho 83401.
Henrys Lake is located in the mountains of southeast Idaho, a short half hour from West Yellowstone. This shallow alpine lake has premier fishing and other recreational opportunities “including camping, hiking and wildlife viewing” in close proximity to traditional working farms and ranches. To ensure your comments are included, please provide your responses no later than November 19, 2018. For questions or for more information on the proposal, please contact Monica Zimmerman, Upper Snake Field Office recreation planner at 208-524-7543 or email@example.com.
Oct 18, 2018
Mr. Jeff Patlovich
Island Park City Planning and Zoning Administrator
RE: 18-Class II-030 Public Hearing for Ralph and Vicki Andrus at 5219 N. Hwy 20, Island Park Idaho for a 25 ft. variance from the required 75 ft., setback from a body of water.
Dear Mr. Patlovich:
I am writing to the P and Z Commission to request denial of the requested reduction in setback on behalf of the Henrys Lake Foundation Board of Directors.
This property has been a long standing conservation concern for IDFG, Henrys Lake Foundation(HLF), locally active non-profit conservation organizations and local neighboring ranchers due to its location containing a significant wetland, ponds and critical portions of Howard Creek . This area is a Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout(YCT) spawning creek, and the Henrys Lake area and its tributaries are the only location in the State of Idaho that produces naturally spawned YCT. These fish spawn in Howard Creek just above the ponds, and the wetland is a critical nursery for young fry. Although a relatively small production, it’s a valuable asset to the fishery and the State. In 2017, Howard Creek was the best producer of YCT fry than any other tributary of the lake.
In years past The Nature Conservancy (TNC) invested funds to provide for an improved culvert under the access road for the previous owner in order to improve passage for spawning YCTs. This resulted in improved spawning numbers returning to the lake. A neighboring rancher attempted to purchase the property outright to prevent any disturbance of the habitat. Another neighboring rancher denied an access easement to reduce the possibility of disturbance of the habitat.
We are requesting that the P and Z Commission deny the request of the current owner for a variance from the 75 ft. setback requirement. Setbacks from bodies of water are in place for good reason: to protect bodies of water from disturbance due to development. This is a critical wetland that is very productive for native fish. It deserves protection. The previous owner was denied setback reductions of this magnitude in the past.
It appears that the planned development is too large for the buildable portion of the lot. The majority of the property is wetland, not suitable for this type of development, and known to the owner when the land was purchased. The buildable portion will not support a structure of this large size with associated driveways, parking, etc.
We appreciate the opportunity to make a public comment on this item of interest in our community. HLF hopes you will consider the concerns we have raised and deny this request.
Phil Barker, Past President HLF Board
Richard Hodge, Acting President HLF Board
Mary Van Fleet, Projects Manager HLF Board
Excerpts from IDFG Fisheries Biologist, Jennifer Vincent’s Quarterly Report –
The lower than expected trout in the gill nets this year suggests trout may have experienced a higher than normal mortality rate over the last few years. Potential factor(s) limiting trout production in the lake may be temperature and oxygen. However, limited information exists on water quality in the lake.
As many of you may know the IDFG has partnered with the Henrys Fork Foundation, the Henrys Lake Foundation and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to implement a new sampling program to monitor water quality in Henrys Lake. Our first sampling date was August 7th and we have been out each week since.
What data are we collecting? We take water samples, zooplankton samples and collect water quality measurements at six different sampling locations. During the winter our water quality sampling equipment will remain deployed under the ice at one of our sampling locations allowing us to collect continuous water quality information throughout the winter. Water samples will be analyzed for total Nitrogen and total Phosphorus concentrations. We also collect data on dissolved oxygen (DO), temperature, conductivity (a measure of how much “stuff” is in the water column), and algal production (tied to the cyanobacteria blooms we’ve observed in recent years) as well as measuring water clarity. We collect zooplankton on a bi-weekly basis.
Our goal here is to gather information on the availability of zooplankton, which is used as a food source for Trout. This is important as we edge closer to the end of September, when we stock all our fish. Along with our partners, we will be evaluating our water quality monitoring program this winter to ensure we are collecting the appropriate data to monitor water quality and its impact on trout. More information regarding this project along with other current activities of the IDFG regarding Henrys Lake can be found at this PDF.