Paris Creek Restoration of Bonneville Cutthroat Trout

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Status

This project is planned to restore habitat for cutthroat trout in 0.5 miles of stream in the National Forest.  We aim to increase stream flows in the currently dewatered reach of Paris Creek. Dr. John Carter has been working on this project for many years, 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.  We are now engaged with these agencies, private landowners and the Power Company to return sufficient flow to sustain cutthroat trout.

  • The Forest Service implemented the habitat reconstruction in September 2016  and it is now complete.  We continue to jointly monitor its success, but it is already a very positive change with deep pools and riffles between. All willow plantings have survived. We continue to monitor flows and water quality in relation to cutthroat trout needs.
  • It is still evident that a water release at the upstream diversion should be negotiated with PacifiCorp. Pacificorp continues to deflect to irrigators, but our monitoring and research on water rights and water management at the plant reveal that the power company does have an option to release the water.
  • In July 2017, we submitted a grant to National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund additional research on water rights and direct stream improvements. We did not receive funding but will continue to apply to this grant now that we have established contact with the program coordinator.

Expected Outcome

The onus is on the Power Company and irrigators to step up and increase the stream flow.  If this does not happen, we can challenge the renewal of the permit for the diversion on the Forest. We will continue to pursue grants and private donors to restore Paris Creek for native Bonneville cutthroat trout.

Update: E. Coli Report, June 2017

E. coli and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous are added to waterways by way of animal and human excrement. Livestock graze in and around waterways and are heavy contributors to stream pollution. Livestock tend to congregate and defecate directly in waterways, and other excrement is washed into streams during periods of runoff. The excess nutrients from livestock excrement are a boon to the growth of aquatic plants, and when these plants die, the process warms the water and depletes oxygen. The presence of pollutants is also costly for municipal water purifiers.

Over the summer and fall of 2016, Yellowstone to Uintas Connection and Western Watersheds Project measured levels of E. coli and fecal coliform in Paris Creek, Idaho. The study found that areas downstream of livestock grazing exceeded legal levels of E. coli contamination on a number of occasions. To meet E. coli standards, we recommend the state enforce certain Best Management Practices, such as to include access control, fencing, pipelines and spring developments, and riparian forest buffers. Furthermore, the best practice to prevent excessive contamination is to fence out livestock from the stream itself.

Paris Creek Restoration is an ongoing project for Yellowstone to Uintas Connection and Western Watersheds Project. Click here for the full E. coli report.