Western Native Trout Initiative Announces 2014 Grant Recipients

The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) received 33 applications for 2014 funding in what the foundation called “a very competitive funding cycle.” Of those 33 applicants, four very worthy causes were selected by the WNTI to receive funding this year. They are as follows:

Whitewater-Baldy Gila Trout Habitat Assessment, New Mexico

The project will help to fund fish, habitat, and macroinvertebrate assessments of occupied and potential Gila trout recovery streams impacted by the 2012 Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire that were not assessed in 2013. Four occupied Gila trout streams and 7 potential recovery streams will be assessed in 2014 and 2015. Occupied recovery streams will be surveyed to determine Gila trout survival and abundance, aquatic macroinvertebrate abundance, and habitat characteristics such as suitable trout habitat availability, cover, substrate, burn severity, discharge, water quality, and temperature; permanent photo points will be established to monitor habitat recovery.  These data will help the Gila Trout Recovery Team and fisheries managers prioritize streams for Gila trout restoration, determine needs for fish salvage, and establish revised short- and long-term goals for the species in light of the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire.   Partnering organizations are U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, University of New Mexico, U.S. Forest Service Mora National Fish Hatchery, Trout Unlimited Albuquerque Chapter, Trout Unlimited national, New Mexico Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service Mimbres Wilderness District, U.S. Forest Service Gila National Forest Supervisory Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Texas Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office.

Yankee Run Creek (Coquille River) Large Woody Debris Restoration for Coastal Cutthroat Trout, Oregon

This restoration project from the Coquille Watershed Association (CWA) is located in the Yankee Run drainage area within the East Fork Coquille Watershed in southwestern coastal Oregon. Yankee Run and Right Fork Yankee Run Creeks have been subjected to human activities such as historical stream cleaning, road construction and past logging practices that have led to poor conditions for fish habitat and water quality, and this project will return key pieces of instream wood to the streams and enhance the riparian buffers established by the landowners. Yankee Run and its tributaries are important spawning and rearing areas for Coastal cutthroat trout as well as resident Rainbow trout. The project area also provides habitat for Chinook and Coho Salmon, Steelhead, Brook Lamprey and Pacific Lamprey. The project area is occupied and designated as critical habitat for Oregon Coast Coho, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The primary goals of the Large Woody Debris (LWD) instream restoration are to enhance and restore native fish populations and habitats by improving gravel recruitment, increasing pool depth and complexity, building LWD structures that will provide overhang for juveniles, nutrient cycling, improved species migration patterns and cooler temperatures.  Once the instream portion of the project is completed, the CWA Restoration Crew will partner with two local high schools to plant native species in the project areas for site rehabilitation, partnerships we enjoy and serve to educate students on fish habitat and riparian restoration.  Partnering organizations are BLM Coos Bay,  Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Plum Creek Timber, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Campbell Group (Menasha Forest Products), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and CWA Technical Advisory Committee and Executive Council.

Sun Creek Historic Channel Reconnection to Improve Bull Trout and Redband Trout Habitat, Oregon

Sun Creek originates on the southern slopes of Crater Lake National Park (CLNP) and was historically a tributary to the Wood River in the Upper Klamath Basin.  Due to agricultural land use there have been extensive channel alterations over the last century and Sun Creek is no longer connected to the Wood River. A population of federally threatened Bull trout inhabits Sun Creek and with aggressive management from CLNP, increased in abundance ten-fold in the last two decades. The proposed project will reconnect Sun Creek to the Wood River, creating a migratory corridor for the isolated Bull trout population and expanding available habitat for Redband trout already present in the Wood River. To accomplish this objective, a new Sun Creek stream corridor will be established, flow in the new channel will be increased by permanently transferring water instream, and diversions will be screened to prevent fish entrainment in irrigation ditches. The new channel will be fenced and planted with native trees and shrubs to decrease nutrient loading, increase stream shading, and provide a natural source for instream wood.  Post-project monitoring will include fish movement and spawning surveys, geomorphic assessments, and multiple photopoints. This project represents a highly successful collaboration between federal, state, tribal, non-profit, and private entities.  Partnering organizations are Crater Lake National Park, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Klamath Tribes, Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust, and two landowners.

Clear Creek Bonneville Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project, Utah

The Clear Creek Bonneville Cutthroat Restoration Project will restore the largest native trout metapopulation in the Southern Bonneville Geographic Management Unit (GMU), with 65 miles of contiguous historic stream habitat.  Of that total, 16 miles will be fully connected with the goal of increasing connectivity in the future. Tasks to be completed by the project include constructing barriers to secure native trout from invasion by non-native trout; removal of non-native trout through chemical treatments; habitat improvement work to help streams recover from wildfire impacts; monitoring of barrier function and recovery of stream habitat and aquatic macroinvertebrates from fire impacts; outreach efforts to educate the public about the project, as well as native cutthroat trout restoration and conservation.   The Clear Creek Project was submitted through WNTI, but funded from Region 6 of the U.S. fish and Wildlife Service Fish Passage program.  Partnering organizations are the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Fishlake National Forest, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serice, and Utah State Parks.