Thanks to the generous support of the JHMWS Foundation, FTR was able to provide partial salary for its Research Director and employ a seasonal Fisheries Technician for six months. Without the support of this critical staff, none of the accomplishments below would have been possible.
FTR completed on-going fisheries and watershed research by monitoring PIT-tag fish survey sites; electro-fishing tributaries; monitoring stream flow and temperature gauges; collecting trout genetic samples; and conducted telemetry-tag surveys (via aircraft). FTR installed a new PIT-tag fish survey site on Teton Creek, a key native trout stream, and installed two additional stream temperature gauges. A portion of JHMWS funds and matching funds were used to pay for fisheries equipment and supplies to enable these research activities.
Scientific Findings & Reporting:
In 2016, FTR completed the 2005-2016 Teton Watershed Fisheries Research Report which summarized eleven years of comprehensive fisheries, water quality, habitat, and hydrology data. The results of the research will be used to inform agency management decisions, prioritize conservation projects, and monitor the efficacy of FTR’s restoration efforts. The most significant findings from the research include the following: 1) trout populations have made a dramatic recovery in the Teton River since 2003 mostly likely due to watershed restoration efforts made by FTR, other conservation organizations, and landowners which started stream restoration in-earnest in 2003; 2) FTR has identified key native trout (Yellowstone cutthroat trout) populations and developed management strategies for each population; 3) FTR has determined the factors contributing to native trout success in certain areas of the Watershed and the factors contributing to native trout declines in other areas; and 4) FTR has identified stream restoration strategies designed to specifically benefit native trout.
Significance & Information Sharing:
FTR has become a regionally and nationally recognized leader in fisheries research due to the quality and quantity of fisheries, water quality, habitat, and hydrology data that we have collected since 2005. This recognition has helped FTR establish working relationships with the most renowned fisheries researchers in the West. In 2015 and 2016, FTR was the only non-profit invited to present research results at the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Interstate Working Group meeting. Our research data (2005-2016) is being used (by FTR and USGS Scientists) to develop a “Decision Support Model” for the future of YCT management. It is a novel approach requiring a robust dataset such as ours, which beyond its utility for our watershed, will be a model for how fisheries managers prioritize research and restoration for inland native trout/at-risk trout species in the West.
2017 Program Goals:
- Retain Mike Lien as the full-time Fisheries Research and Restoration Director.
- Hire a six month Fisheries Technician to assist the Director with research and restoration activities.
- Maintain ongoing fisheries research: interrogation sites, fish surveys, stream temperature monitoring, and stream flow monitoring.
- Complete the final year of flights for the Bitch Creek telemetry study.
- Conduct native trout habitat surveys to determine which restoration strategies work best, specifically to improve all life stages for our native cutthroat trout species.
- Assist with bi-annual Idaho Department of Fish and Game main stem Teton River electro-fishing survey, with a concerted fish tagging effort (goal of implanting 1,000 tags) in native and non-native fish.
- Conduct an inventory of irrigation headgate structures, to ensure they comply as fish friendly, and are in working order. FTR is raising funds to work collaboratively with irrigators to replace/improve their existing structures. We have raised $200K and the NRCS has secured $300K to implement structural improvements over the next 3 years.
- Restoration: managing revegetation and stream channel improvements on Teton Creek ($150K project), the most important tributary for YCT in the upper Teton River.
- Complete Phase 2 (Cemetery Road Bridge to Hwy 33 Bridge) of the Teton Creek geomorphic assessment to prioritize future restoration work.
- Research Director will work with the USGS and YCT Interstate Working Group to finalize the YCT Decision Support Model, which will be peer-reviewed and published by a cohort of leading inland native trout scientists.
FY 2016 Annual Report: http://tetonwater.org/wp-content/uploads/FTRAnnualReport_2016_LR.pdf