In the face of 10 consecutive years of dramatically declining catch rates and the virtual elimination of any natural cutthroat reproduction on Henrys Lake, the Henrys Lake Foundation (HLF) was founded in 1981 with initial funding of $2,700 from 170 area residents who joined that first year as members. The four major objectives established by the HLF for Henrys Lake were:
- Establish catch rate goals with commensurate stocking targets
- Increase natural cutthroat reproduction through stream restoration
- Enhance hatchery production
- Improve water quality
To present, these goals have guided the activities of the foundation and the funding of fisheries projects at Henrys Lake.
For over 30 years, the HLF has leveraged direct funding of $167,000 to obtain additional external match funding to complete projects with an aggregate cost exceeding $3,000,000.
These projects resulted in the fencing of over 14 miles of streams and lakefront, the re-vegetation of several miles of tributaries involving the planting of roughly 10,000 willow stalks, and the installation of several off-site cattle watering holes to prevent ‘cowing out’ of stream beds. In addition, 21 irrigation diversion fish screens have been installed which has prevented the loss of untold numbers of creek spawned fry being lost in bordering fields.
The HLF also spearheaded the replacement of 8 culverts to accommodate the upstream passage of spawning cutthroat, including the major bridge replacement on Hwy. 87 at the Targhee and Howard Creeks in 2006. As a result of this collaborative effort between the HLF, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and numerous other state, federal, and non-profit agencies, it is now estimated that roughly 40% of the cutthroat trout in Henrys Lake are naturally reproduced. In addition, catch rates have tripled from the .25 fish/hour realized throughout the 1970s to the current .70 today.
More recently we’ve entered into a collaboration with Idaho Department of Fish and Game to do the most extensive scientific study Henrys Lake has ever had. Without our sponsorship, projects like these would not be possible.
2020 Update on Partners Grant
Rock Creek Project Complete
The Rock Creek Project, which the Henrys Lake Foundation initiated, has been completed. The project was designed to augment flow to Duck Creek. The two-year project was finished with installation of flumes to monitor flows. Flow data will provide valuable information to determine the effectiveness of the two diversion structures that were installed last year.
The completed project was the result of collaboration between the United States Forest Service, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Nature Conservancy, local landowners and the Henrys Lake Foundation.
The project was identified by habitat experts as one of the most critical to restore spawning and rearing habitat in the second largest tributary to Henrys Lake. The completed project will not only provide additional flow to this important creek but will also reduce water temperatures. Landowners will benefit as well by improved irrigation control. It will be easier to water pastures when needed and bypass water when not required. Flow monitoring will also allow property owners to monitor water rights.
Rock Creek produces late season water flow from the snowfields on the high peaks surrounding Sawtelle mountain. With this finished project, additional water will flow to Duck Creek and ultimately to Henrys Lake. Anglers and landowners alike will benefit.
For a detailed report on our most recent projects, check out our latest Henrys Lake Foundation newsletter.
Explore the links below to see the total dollar amount of yearly funding and the specific projects undertaken throughout the HLF’s existence.
HLF has entered into collaboration with Idaho Fish & Game to do the most extensive scientific study our lake has ever had. We also helped fund water gap improvements and the boat inspection/wash stations to protect Henrys Lake from invasive species.
HLF spearheaded the installation of new culverts under Highway 87, greatly improving the migration of spawning fish. HLF also purchased and installed temperature and flow sensors for surrounding creeks and purchased sterilization equipment to prevent cross genetics of hybrids and Yellowstone Cutthroat.
HLF provided funds to improve the lake’s aeration system, prevented the illegal construction of a concrete plant, and made improvements to many creeks in the Henrys Lake watershed region. The foundation installed shoreline fences to protect the lake from erosion by cattle.
HLF provided funds and labor for riverbank restoration and helped fund the building of a higher coffer dam. The HLF also coordinated with IDFG, area landowners, and sportsmen to develop the first Henrys Lake Enhancement Plan. This plan established the catch limit of 2 fish as well as stocking and catch rate objectives.