December 05, 2023

A Wildlife Gem in the Teton River Canyon

Badger Creek Canyon Ranch
Badger Creek Canyon Ranch

Known for its outstanding fly-fishing, the Teton River Basin is an ecosystem of massive importance, with irreplaceable wetland and riparian habitat. The basin has some of the highest biodiversity in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which encompasses some 22 million acres of habitat in and around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. It is a major movement corridor for large mammals and supports one of three remaining strongholds for Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

These characteristics have made the Teton River Basin the top priority for conservation in the region. With this in mind, Western Rivers Conservancy is taking the rare opportunity to buy and protect the 613-acre Badger Creek Canyon Ranch, a critical property on its namesake stream, at the head of the Teton Canyon. After purchasing the ranch, we will work to secure funding to convey it to the BLM for permanent conservation, laying the groundwork for habitat restoration and advancing a broad effort to recover native Yellowstone cutthroat trout throughout the Teton River system.

Badger Creek flows out of the Teton Mountains and is an important tributary of the Teton River. Upper Badger Creek is one of only a few Teton River tributaries that contain native Yellowstone cutthroat trout without non-native competitors. A significant portion of the creek runs underground for much of the year, which physically isolates the up-river native fish populations. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the BLM are working to restore those same Yellowstone cutthroat trout to the lower reaches of Badger Creek, which are currently dominated by non-native rainbow trout. Successfully conserving Badger Creek Canyon Ranch will move this effort forward and help guarantee those fish recovery gains last.

Badger Creek and the adjacent Bitch Creek canyons provide crucial transitional and early winter habitat for moose, Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer that over winter in the Teton River Canyon and spend summers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Badger Creek Canyon Ranch is the only significant private ownership along the lower reach of Badger Creek. The ranch contains 2.5 miles on both sides of the creek, as well as 130 acres of cropland on a plateau above Badger Creek Canyon. Once the BLM acquires the property, it plans on restoring the cropland to native grasses increasing much-needed winter range for the area’s big game populations and benefiting Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, a state-listed species of “Greatest Conservation Need.”

Placing the ranch into public ownership will also allow for the possibility of a new, non-motorized trail system through the property, which will be a major asset for anglers, hikers, hunters and other recreationists in the Teton River Basin.

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