U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE
 
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Blackfoot River Watershed

Conservation Strategies


Threats

The primary threat to the Blackfoot Watershed is habitat fragmentation.    Residential development, poor logging practices, invasive species encroachment, fire suppression, and improper grazing management have all combined to adversely affect fish and wildlife habitat.  Other long-term threats include de-watered streams, poorly designed irrigation structures, wetland drainage, expanding croplands in native grasslands, mining, and road construction.


Conservation Strategies

For 10 years, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has been an active participant in an innovative watershed group called the Blackfoot Challenge.  The Blackfoot Challenge is a proactive "grass roots" organization which coordinates resource management in the Blackfoot River Watershed.  The Challenge's mission is to coordinate efforts that will enhance, conserve, and protect the natural resources and rural lifestyle of the Blackfoot River Valley for present and future generations.

Bar graph showing westslope cutthroat trout densities in the Scotty Brown Section of the Blackfoot River increasing from 1989 to 2000The Challenge uses small committees to deal with issues such as habitat restoration, landscape protection, noxious weed management, drought management, education, and recreation.   Habitat projects have focused on the restoration of drained wetlands, tributary streams, and riparian areas.   Other project include:  re-seeding cropland to native grasses, grazing management, fish passage barrier removal, instream flow enhancement, and noxious weed management. 

Wetland restoration costs in this Focus Area average $500 per acre. Upland enhancements cost $10 per acre. In-stream restorations average $9.50 per linear foot and riparian restoration costs $1.50 per linear foot.

Landscape protection measures have been focused on preserving the rural way of life and protecting critical fish and wildlife habitat through the use of conservation easements.  Easements (versus fee acquisition) are the preferred landscape protection tool for a variety of reasons including:  easements keep the land in private ownership, they cost less to purchase, they are less expensive to manage, and easements are socially acceptable.

Photo of a Denil fish ladder on Salmon Creek
Installation of a Denil fish ladder on Salmon Creek.

The Partners Program is also very active with two other watershed groups in the Blackfoot.  They include the North Powell Conservation District and the Big Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  The North Powell Conservation District has focused its efforts on water quality issues associated with the Nevada Creek Watershed, a principle tributary to the Blackfoot River.  The Big Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited has been working on restoring the Blackfoot River, its tributaries, and adjacent lands to benefit native bull and westslope cutthroat trout.


Future Needs

  • Restore 1,500 acres of wetlands on private lands in this Focus Area.
  • Enhance or restore 200,000 acres of grasslands.
  • Restore 750 miles of in-stream and/or riparian habitat.

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