The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) awarded $18,800 to 8 project proposals this year, matched by $98,014 in other public and private funding, for a total projects’ value of $116,814. WNTI gratefully thanks our partners at Rocky Mountain Flyathlon, Orvis, and all our individual donors for supporting our 2017 Small Grants Program!
Arizona and New Mexico
Get To Know Your Native – Gila Trout
Grant Applicant: Arizona Council, Trout Unlimited.
Grant Summary: This project is a coordinated education and outreach effort focusing on raising awareness for the native Gila Trout in Arizona and New Mexico. TU and their partners will develop a poster that educates the public about Gila Trout biology, evolutionary history, habitat needs, threats, current status, and support needed to eventually move Gila Trout from its current Threatened status. This will be the third poster in the “Get to Know Your Native” series. WNTI funds for this project will be spent on the printing of the posters to be distributed by the fish and wildlife agencies and partners at their discretion. The goal is to outreach to diverse organizations and communities – especially classrooms and youth groups.
TROUT at WHCCD (Transforming Research Opportunities for Undergraduate Training at West Hills Community College District)
Grant Applicant: West Hills Community College District (WHCCD).
Grant Summary: West Hills Community College District, a primarily Hispanic serving institution, services 3,464 square miles of California’s agriculturally rich but economically troubled Central Valley. The region encompasses extremes of geographic, economic, and cultural diversity. WHCC served an average of 4,700 students each year between 2009 and 2016. Recognizing a need for environmental change in the area, in 2015 WHCC applied for and received a Technical Assistance Grant from the National Park Service, Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program. Work with the National Park Service focuses on the establishment of an environmental education program and undergraduate research program focused on the biology and habitat of the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, which is supported by this small grant.
Habitat Monitoring and Stream Assessment Program
Grant Applicant: Colorado Trout Unlimited.
Grant Summary: As efforts to protect and restore native trout in Colorado continue to make progress in watersheds throughout the state, it is critical that stream habitats suitable for fish reintroduction are continuously identified and monitored. This project will coordinate efforts among Colorado Trout Unlimited chapters with input from state and federal agency partners to monitor water temperature profiles in existing Greenback and Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout habitat, use stream temperature analysis to identify new habitats that could support Greenback and Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout within their native ranges, and promote community engagement in native trout restoration through citizen science and public outreach.
Middle Fork Carnero Creek Culvert Replacement
Grant Applicant: US Forest Service – Rio Grande National Forest.
Grant Summary: The objective of this project is the replacement of a 15-inch culvert that crosses Middle Fork Carnero Creek. The current culvert does not act as a fish passage barrier at most flows, but is undersized and represents a liability for future flood flows. In addition, the current configuration of the undersized channel has resulted in un-natural sediment transport and fish habitat within the vicinity of an important Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout population. The objective of this project is the replacement of the culvert with an open arch design which will provide for more preferred stream simulation while providing for road safety while re-opening 7.2 miles of habitat for Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout. Project partners will also include an educational / outreach component to the project by educating visitors to the Carnero Guard Station about the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout and the culvert replacement projects in the drainage. Ongoing monitoring of the project site will be completed by project partners.
Butler Creek Riparian Restoration
Grant Applicant: Middle Colorado Watershed Council.
Grant Summary: Butler Creek is a headwater stream that contains a population of Colorado River Cutthroat Trout that is close to local extirpation attributed to habitat degradation – specifically sedimentation. In conjunction with U.S. Forest Service grazing management changes, this project will restore native vegetation along the riparian corridor by re-establishing native riparian vegetation, specifically willows. The recovery of this stream by planting willows will stabilize banks previously eroded by grazing and down-cutting associated with lack of vegetation. Colorado River Cutthroat Trout are the only fish species documented in Butler Creek and, due to physical barriers, not susceptible to competition from non-native species. However, improvement of sedimentation in this creek will positively affect native fish populations of Bluehead sucker, and federally endangered Colorado Pikeminnow and Razorback Sucker downstream. Project partners will monitor/evaluate the success of the project through electrofishing and water quality sampling before and after restoration activities have taken place and for five years annually.
Bates Access Signs and Stewardship
Grant Applicant: Friends of the Teton River.
Grant Summary: Project partners will print interpretive signage and construct 2 interpretive kiosks at a new Teton River access point bridge near Driggs, Idaho. Signage will focus on how the public can help to maintain the river resource, fishing rules/regulations, public access rules/regulations, and conservation and stewardship of water resources, including identification, ecology, and current efforts to conserve Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. Partnering agencies and organizations will provide oversight and assist with signage installation at the site, which will be uninstalled and stored through the winter months, to save them from weathering. The kiosks and signage will provide outreach to an estimated 10,000+ individuals each year.
Gila Trout Restoration Project Informational Sign: Willow Creek New Mexico
Grant Applicant: Gila/Rio Grande Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Grant Summary: Willow Creek, a tributary to the Middle Fork of the Gila River and native habitat to Gila Trout, has its headwaters located on several of the main peaks of the Mogollon Mountains and was seriously impacted by the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire (2012). Most of the upper watershed of Willow Creek was burnt at high severity resulting in a near wholesale loss of vegetation. The large area and severity of the burned area, in combination with steep slopes in this watershed, resulted in increased peak flows and magnified erosion that caused dramatic channel incision. Gila Trout were stocked in Willow Creek and protection afforded by installation of a WNTI-supported fish barrier completed in 2016, and ongoing monitoring has not detected non-native trout. Successful spawning of Gila trout was documented in 2016 and 2017. This project will create an informational sign, printed on an aluminum panel using a 4-color process. The location of installation in Willow Creek provides a dramatic backdrop illustrating the specific threats to stream habitats resulting from wildfire and the resulting aftermath of ash flows and erosion due to flooding, and highlighting the efforts to re-establish a population of Gila Trout with recent construction of a WNTI-supported fish barrier in 2016 and ongoing conservation and stream habitat restoration work. The sign will be a focal point for visitors with an estimated annual exposure of 5,000 visitor days.
Jacobs Creek Upper Culvert Fish Passage
Grant Applicant: Trout Unlimited.
Grant Summary: The main project objective is to improve accessibility of spawning habitat and fish migrations for Bonneville Cutthroat Trout through a culvert on Jacobs Creek, a tributary to the Weber River. This proposal specifically addresses the upper culvert of two road crossings occurring in tandem on Jacobs Creek. Sampling and research efforts since 2011 have clearly shown that, among the 8 small tributaries that enter this reach of the Weber River, Jacobs Creek is consistently the most-utilized tributary for this fluvial population of Bonneville Cutthroat Trout. Despite the high use of spawning fluvial fish in Jacobs Creek, two culverts, in tandem (within 400 feet of each other), have blocked most fish from accessing spawning grounds. In the fall of 2013, the lower culvert was replaced and made fish passable. Since that time migrating fish have been able to make it to the upper culvert unimpeded. Project proponents will modify the downstream approach to the culvert to allow better access for adult spawning Bonneville cutthroat trout by constructing 7-9 step pools, each with 15 inch drops, downstream of the culvert using imported boulders. This project is a continuation of work on the Weber River featured in the Blueheads and Bonnevilles film produced in 2016 by the Western Native Trout Initiative and Desert Fish Habitat Partnership and is partially funded by funds crowdraised specifically for additional conservation projects on the Weber River.