Jack Rabbit, Texas-Photo Credit Chase Fountain

Burrowing Owl, Nevada - Photo Credit Tim Torrell

Eyed Trout Eggs, Tonto Creek Hatchery AZ - Photo Credit George Andrejko

Humpback Whales, Orca, Alaska - Photo Credit Sandstrom, Riley Woodford



WNTI Receives $432K Grant from Resources Legacy Fund

Resources Legacy Fund is once again partnering with the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) through the Open Rivers Fund to reconnect parts of the Upper Bear River in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. The continued partnership will benefit Bonneville cutthroat trout, recreational fishing, and ranchers who divert water for irrigation. The partnership will ultimately fund ten restoration projects that will remove nine diversion dams, four additional barriers and restore stream and riparian habitat. This year’s grant of $432,000 is the second grant received by WNTI since last summer.


The projects funded through the Open Rivers Fund are expected to be completed by September 2020. The Open Rivers Fund is a 10-year, $50 million program of Resources Legacy Fund, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It supports local community efforts to remove obsolete dams, modernize infrastructure, and restore rivers across the West. Resources Legacy Fund works with donors to create significant outcomes for the environment and for people.


Funds from this year’s $432,000 grant will be used to replace two diversion dams, a perched culvert, and engineering assessments to remove a large concrete dam and two additional rock dams from six sites in the Upper Bear River basin. Activities supported by the grant will open an additional 47.35 river miles, restore over 3,500 feet of stream and riverine habitat, reduce bank erosion and sedimentation, eliminate entrainment of fish, and provide engineering assessments for two critical projects to remove aging infrastructure. WNTI’s on the ground partners for the 2019 projects are Wyoming Game and Fish Department, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Trout Unlimited.


“Resources Legacy Fund’s partnership with the Western Native Trout Initiative proves it is possible to give landowners better irrigation while reconnecting rivers for fish,” said Julie Turrini, the Director of Lands, Rivers, and Communities at Resources Legacy Fund who oversees the Open Rivers Fund. “We are proud to continue to support this important work.”


Multiple irrigation diversion structures and other barriers fragment the Upper Bear River drainage, which spans Northern Utah, Southeast Idaho, and Southwest Wyoming.  WNTI is working with many partners to remove and replace aging infrastructure in order to protect Bonneville cutthroat trout strongholds, restore habitat connectivity, and open up access to high-quality upstream habitats and cold, clean water on both public and private lands.


“We are thrilled to continue the collaboration between WNTI and Resources Legacy Fund to benefit native fish, landowners, and recreationists in the Upper Bear River drainage,” said WNTI Coordinator Therese Thompson. “We completed the projects funded by the Open Rivers Fund last year and these new projects build upon those successes. These landscape-scale recovery efforts are complex and require collaboration from committed partners in both the public and private sectors.”


WNTI is a program of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and a recognized National Fish Habitat Partnership that works to cooperatively restore and recover 21 western native trout and char species and sub-species across their historic range. The program funds efforts that raise awareness of the importance of native trout and focus limited financial and human resources toward the highest-impact, locally-led, on-the-ground projects.  Since its inception in 2006, WNTI has directed more than $35 million in federal, public and private funds to support 147 priority native trout conservation projects. WNTI and partners have removed 96 barriers to fish passage, reconnected or improved 1,199 miles of native trout habitat, and put in place 35 protective fish barriers to conserve important native trout populations.


WAFWA news releases available at http://www.wafwa.org/news/

Photo Credit: Tyler Coleman

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 24 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.

Posted by WAFWA at 8/13/2019 11:51:00 PM
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