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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

 
 
 

News

Western Native Trout Initiative Receives $190K Grant from Resources Legacy Fund

Resources Legacy Fund is partnering again with the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) through the Open Rivers Fund to execute an ambitious watershed-scale restoration effort in the Warner Basin in southeast Oregon. The partnership will benefit several fish species of concern in the Warner Lakes, recreational fishing, and ranchers who divert water for irrigation.
 
Fish that will be conserved as part of this effort include the Warner Lakes Redband trout which is a state sensitive and federal species of concern, and also the Warner sucker, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The partnership will ultimately fund ten restoration projects over seven years to open 38 stream miles in the Warner Basin by 2025. This year’s grant of $190,000 will support the first four projects in the portfolio. 
 
Funds from this grant will be used to complete engineering design plans to replace two diversion dams and two concrete structures to provide fish passage at four sites on Deep Creek.  Activities supported by this first phase will open 31 river miles, restore stream and riverine habitat, reduce bank erosion and sedimentation, improve water supply reliability and reduce operation and maintenance costs for landowners by removing aging infrastructure. 
 
“We are excited for our continued partnership with the Western Native Trout Initiative in showcasing the effectiveness of updating in-stream infrastructure giving landowners better irrigation while also reconnecting rivers for fish,” said Shara Sparks, Program Manager at Resources Legacy Fund.  “We are proud to continue supporting this important work, which is part of a larger portfolio of projects in our Open Rivers Fund, restoring rivers throughout the West.”
 
Limited water in the eastern Oregon desert means that Warner Basin streams are a critical water source for fish, wildlife, and humans. Honey Creek and Deep Creek provide both irrigation water critical to local ranches and habitat for Warner sucker, Warner Lakes Redband Trout,other native fishes, and migrating birds. The low-lying portion of the Warner Basin provides the most fertile agricultural land in the area, as well as stream reaches critical to fish migrating from large lakes in the valley upstream to high-quality spawning and rearing habitats. Multiple irrigation diversion structures and other barriers fragment the watershed.  
 
“We are thrilled to continue the collaboration between WNTI and Resources Legacy Fund and begin a new partnership to benefit native fish, landowners, and recreationists in the Warner Basin,” said WNTI Coordinator Therese Thompson. “We are grateful to the Warner Basin Habitat Partnership and all of our local partners for their vision and in creating the plan to make this important work possible. Landscape-scale recovery efforts are complex and require collaboration from committed partners in both the public and private sectors.”
 
Other partners in the project include the Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council, Lakeview Soil and Water Conservation District, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, River Design Group, and Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board on the project.  
 
This project is part of the  Open Rivers Fund, 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.
 
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 www.wafwa.org/news/
 
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.
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Posted by WAFWA at 11/5/2019 8:56:00 PM
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