BLM Kemmerer Field Office improves fish habitat in the Dry Fork of the Smith’s Fork drainage
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (PRESS RELEASE) -The Bureau of Land Management’s Kemmerer Field Office has partnered with Lincoln County, Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resource Trust (WWNRT), Trout Unlimited, and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to improve fish habitat conditions in the Dry Fork drainage system. Together the partners have improved aquatic habitat connectivity at three road-stream crossing locations along the upper portions of the Smith’s Fork Road and now are preparing to improve the fourth and final crossing.
The Dry Fork stream provides crucial habitat for Northern leatherside chub, Bonneville cutthroat trout, and brown trout, important species for both conservation and sport. Authorities recently considered both the Northern leatherside and Bonneville cutthroat trout for protection under the Endangered Species Act, but continued conservation measures across their range, like the habitat restoration project at the Dry Fork has kept them off the list.
True to its name, much of the Dry Fork has an interrupted flow regime where parts of the stream are dry while other reaches remain flowing depending on seasonal conditions. This flow regime is challenging for fish and emphasizes the need for connectivity throughout the drainage for the persistence of the populations.
The project will re-route approximately 0.1 mile of the road and relocate the existing stream crossing to a more suitable location. The stream crossing will be a fish passable design, reconnecting 3 miles of habitat above the previous perched crossing that was acting as a barrier to fish migration. A portion of the Dry Fork will receive channel modifications that will provide enhanced fish habitat and stabilize the stream channel and banks. The existing portion of road and crossing will be removed and reclaimed. Once the construction and reclamation activities are complete, the area will be temporarily fenced to protect the new disturbances until they are vegetated and stable.
Oxbow Earthworks of Blackfoot, Idaho will begin mobilization and construction after September 18, 2023. Expect delays of up to 30 minutes when traveling the upper portions of the Smith’s Fork Road through the remainder of the travel season. Alternative access to areas above the project exists through the Bridger-Teton National Forest, contact the Afton Ranger District for current road conditions.
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