Paris Creek Restoration of Bonneville Cutthroat Trout

||||||| ||||||| |||||||


The project goal is to restore habitat for Bonneville cutthroat trout in the 3-mile reach of Paris Creek affected by an irrigation diversion on the adjacent Caribou National Forest.  Our goal is to increase stream flows in this mostly dewatered reach of Paris Creek. Dr. John Carter, Y2U staff ecologist, has been working on this project for nearly two decades, engaging the Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game to conduct fish surveys. These were completed in 2001 and 2012, showing that Bonneville cutthroat trout are missing from the dewatered reach. The Forest Service brought equipment and expertise in 2016 to actively restore stream channels, create pools and riffles and plant willows along the streambank in the portion of Paris Creek on the Forest. Dr. Carter and the Forest Service fisheries biologist looked at the effectiveness of the restoration efforts along the portion of the creek in the Forest and reported great progress. Idaho Department of Environmental Quality surveyed fish, invertebrates and wildlife along the Kiesha’s Preserve reach this summer.  We are now engaged with these agencies, private landowners, irrigation district and PacifiCorp to return enough flow to sustain cutthroat trout.  PacifiCorp has recently announced that they intend to decommission the power plant, thereby not needing to divert the water out of the upper stretch of Paris Creek.  PacifiCorp is currently suggesting that a minimum of 16 CFS be released into the creek during the irrigation season.  Ultimately, increased flow will restore the ability of Bonneville cutthroat trout to inhabit this entire 3-mile stretch of Paris Creek that is currently dewatered.

Work Plan

  • The Forest Service started implementation of the habitat reconstruction in September 2016 and it is now complete.  We continue to jointly monitor project success, and there are already deep pools and riffles on the site as a result of the restoration. All willow plantings have survived. During the summer of 2020 we will continue to monitor flows and water quality in relation to Bonneville cutthroat trout habitat specifications.
  • In 2018, Kiesha's Preserve asserted its water rights on Paris Creek which will remain in the stream and give us an additional wedge to force more water to remain in the creek at the diversion structure.

Expected Outcome

Y2U is currently attending meetings and negotiating to have more or all of the stream returned to the upper reach of Paris Creek which occurs above the power plant and the point of diversion for the irrigation company.