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Cutthroat trout rebounds on Blackfoot River

upper blackfoot confluence
Idaho Department of Fish and Game Fishery Technicians Nate Heiner and Austin Young prepare to measure and tag migrating Yellowstone cutthroat trout at the fish trap on the Upper Blackfoot River.

SODA SPRINGS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The Upper Blackfoot Confluence (UBC) reports success in improving cutthroat trout habitat on the Upper Blackfoot River.

UBC is a voluntary partnership composed of three mining companies and two conservation groups.  The group includes Bayer US, J.R. Simplot Company, Nutrien, Trout Unlimited, and the Idaho Conservation League.

According to Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Fishery Biologist Arnie Brimmer, ““We counted more than 1,300 mature trout at our station so far this year. That makes 2020 the second highest Yellowstone cutthroat run recorded since 2001. Because each mature female trout carries roughly 1,500 eggs, the annual migration is a major driver of fish abundance in this historic cutthroat stronghold.”

“This year’s spawning run is great news for anglers. It is also a big boost for the landowners, companies, agencies, and citizen groups who have worked for years to improve fish habitat in the Upper Blackfoot,” said Warren Colyer of Trout Unlimited and a member of the Upper Blackfoot Confluence (UBC).

Roger Gibson, who represents Bayer US on the UBC, said: “Our progress in restoring the Upper Blackfoot is thanks to the dedication of landowners, agencies, and conservation organizations. We are grateful for their hard work to ensure that the Upper Blackfoot will be a place where cutthroat trout thrive and where people can work and recreate for generations to come.”

According to a news release, UBC said it would provide more than $220,000 this year to projects designed to improve trout habitat and water quality.

The projects include:

  • Support a second year of work on a major river restoration project at the Blackfoot River Wildlife Management Area in partnership with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game
  • Restore a stream channel on Chippy Creek in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Trout Unlimited
  • Relocate a portion of the Diamond Creek Road that is subject to repeated washouts in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service
  • Fund new fencing along Sheep Creek to aid stream restoration in partnership with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Bear Lake Grazing Company.

UBC will also continue grants to the Highlands Cooperative Weed Management Area for weed control in the upper basin.

The mining companies have provided more than $1.9 million for habitat projects since the UBC was founded in 2011.  That has been matched with another $1.7 million in grants from state, federal, and private sources.  The improvement projects are completed by agency and non-profit partners in cooperation with cooperating landowners in the upper river basin.

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