A project to improve fish habitat in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River by inserting large, downed wood in the waterway is under way and will continue through August.
The Upper Yankee Fork Restoration Project is being undertaken on the tributary of the Salmon River by the Salmon-Challis National Forest, along with the Bureau of Reclamation, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and Trout Unlimited. Located on the Yankee Fork between Jordan Creek, about a mile upstream from the old mining town of Bonanza, and Eightmile Creek, it is one of the largest stream restoration projects ever implemented on the national forest.
“We are very excited to begin implementing this important project, and we are grateful to our partners for helping us with this critical restoration effort,” said Challis-Yankee Fork District Ranger Katie Wood.
By placing about 730 trees in the stream channel, the project seeks to restore it to a more natural condition. According to a news release from the forest, large wood within the stream channel plays a critical role in the development and maintenance of fish habitat. Over the past 150 years, activities such as timber harvesting, mining, road construction and fire suppression have caused large wood abundance to drop far below natural levels.
Bart Gamett, a fish biologist with the forest and the project leader, said the project will substantially improve habitat for chinook salmon, steelhead, bull trout, cutthroat trout and other fish species.
Forest managers are asking visitors to be aware that personnel and equipment are working on the project and to use caution when in the area. Traffic on the road along the river will sometimes be stopped, though delays are anticipated to be no longer than 15 minutes. Additionally, some of the dispersed campsites within the project area will be temporarily closed while crews and equipment work within or near them. Those campsites are expected to reopen by Aug. 15.