New Effort for Salmon in Scenic Sawtooth Valley
Jul 7th, 2017 | Written by Western Rivers Conservancy
Photo by Kirk Anderson
In Idaho’s scenic Sawtooth Valley, Western Rivers Conservancy has successfully purchased the 364-acre Goat Falls Ranch, which controls crucial water rights on Goat and Meadow Creeks, two key tributary streams of the Salmon River. Historically, these streams contained some of the highest density Chinook salmon rearing habitat in the Salmon River system. Due to habitat degradation and low in-stream flows, the creeks now harbor only a fraction of the salmon and steelhead they once did. During the critical seasons of late summer and fall, when stream flows are already low and rearing juvenile Chinook are most susceptible, portions of both creeks are reduced to only a trickle, or dewatered entirely.
WRC hopes to change this by working in partnership with the Idaho Water Resource Board to deliver more water in-stream. This will improve late season conditions for fish and wildlife by returning cold water to these critical Salmon River tributaries. In addition to improving in-stream flows, our purchase of the ranch will enable restoration of key reaches of both Goat and Meadow creeks.
Goat Falls Ranch also has an important recreation component. A key trailhead into the SNRA lies off of the ranch road and accesses the popular Alpine Way Trail, which leads to several scenic alpine lakes and Goat Creek Falls, Idaho’s tallest waterfall. We expect to convey the ranch to the U.S. Forest Service to be managed for conservation within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
WRC’s work at Goat Falls Ranch follows on the heels of our successful protection of a mile of Pole Creek, another critical Sawtooth Valley tributary to the Salmon River. Pole Creek is one of the top-priority streams for recovery in the Salmon River system. Thanks to our efforts there, restoration of a mile of the stream is now underway.