The eight miles of the Blackfoot River meandering through the Idaho Fish and Game Department‘s Blackfoot Wildlife Management Area in southeast Idaho doesn’t look the same today as it did a year ago… and that is a very good thing for native Yellowstone cutthroat trout and other wildlife.
On April 20, 2021, it was announced that Idaho Fish and Game is working with many partners on this multi-year river restoration and land improvement project.
Tall cut banks of eroding soil have been replaced with low profile slopes covered with newly planted willows and native vegetation.
Segments of the river once characterized by slow moving shallow water are now alive with new riffles and deep pools of cool water.
Fish have already discovered the cover created for them by submerged conifer logs harvested from a nearby forest—a selective logging effort that has benefited both upland wildlife and a declining aspen stand.
The outline of a historic oxbow seen only on maps will soon hold water for frogs, ducks, and moose.
And, this is just the beginning.
Future project phases will continue the restoration of the upper Blackfoot River and surrounding upland habitats, making a difference to a diversity of wildlife species and reviving one of Idaho’s remarkable fishing opportunities for native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
This long-term restoration effort led by Idaho Fish and Game is possible because of the partnerships formed among anglers, hunters, conservation groups, resource managers, landowners, industries, and other partners.
Photo courtesy of Idaho Fish and Game.