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Ecology and salmon related articles

Fish Restoration Resumes on Yankee Fork

by Gannet News Service
Challis Messenger, July 14, 2015

The Yankee Fork of the Salmon River was greatly altered by a dredging operation that literally turned the valley upside down. Fish restoration efforts are once again underway in the Yankee Fork basin east of Stanley. This year work will focus on two projects. The first is the West Fork Confluence Stream Restoration Project located at the confluence of Yankee Fork and West Fork. This project seeks to restore fish habitat that was impacted by dredge mining and is expected to significantly improve fish habitat for Chinook salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, and other fish that occur in the river. Work began on this project in 2015 and will continue through 2017.

The second project is the Pond Series 3 Adaptive Management Project located along the east side of the Yankee Fork Road near Cearley Creek. This area has also been impacted by dredge mining. In 2012 and 2013, managers completed a project that restored the area to a more natural condition. The project was very successful. Bart Gamett, fish biologist with the Forest Service, said, "We have been amazed at the large numbers of spawning steelhead and juvenile fish that are using the new habitat created by this project." While the project was very successful, fish managers want to make some additional improvements. Justin Kraczek, a Forest Service intern, explained, "Since implementing this project, we have continued to evaluate and refine our techniques, and we believe that some additional adjustments will further improve fish habitat within the project area." This work will include adding more trees to the stream channel and modifying the stream channel in two locations to improve habitat conditions.

Both projects are being implemented through a collaborative effort that includes the Bureau of Reclamation, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Trout Unlimited, Bonneville Power Administration, Simplot and Salmon-Challis National Forest.

Those visiting the Yankee Fork this summer and fall may see and hear personnel, heavy equipment, and helicopters working on these projects. Visitors should be aware that trucks will be operating on the Yankee Fork Road between Sunbeam and Bonanza and visitors should use caution while traveling this section of road. The public is prohibited from entering either project area during project implementation.

The West Fork Confluence Stream Restoration Project has required the closure of two areas on national forest lands just east of the project area near Preachers Cove and between the Yankee Fork Road and the Yankee Fork. These areas are being used as staging sites for the large trees that will be used in the project and the closures are necessary to provide for public safety. These areas, which have been clearly marked on the ground, were closed June 15 and will reopen no later than September 1.

The Pond Series 3 Adaptive Management Project will result in some short traffic delays on the Yankee Fork Road while helicopters are working on the project. These delays will generally be less than 15 minutes.

Katie Wood, district ranger for the Challis-Yankee Fork Ranger District, said, "We want people to be aware that personnel and equipment are working on these projects and to use caution when in these areas."

The Salmon-Challis National Forest appreciates the public's cooperation as these projects are implemented. For additional information, contact Bart Gamett at (208) 588-3420.

Related Pages:
Forest Plans Fish Habitat Project at Yankee Fork by Bart Gamett, Idaho Mountain Express, 7/8/15

Gannet News Service
Forest Plans Fish Habitat Project at Yankee Fork
Challis Messenger, July 14, 2015

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