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Tincup project partners receive conservation award

◆ Stream restoration project kicked off in 2017.

The Tincup Creek stream restoration project area is located above the junction of Highway 34 (Tincup Highway) and USFS Road #117 (Tincup/Bridge Creek Road), between Wayan, Idaho, and Freedom, Wyoming.

Efforts in stream restoration in the Tincup area have been recognized. The project began in 2017 and has continued in phases since that time. A number of different groups and agencies have been involved in the work.

This fall, the Intermountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service recognized the work being done in the Tincup area and the groups involved by presenting the Partnerships and Volunteerism award to the group.
The award recipients included: Trout Unlimited (TU), the Caribou-Targhee National Forest (CTNF) and grazing permittees Ken and Kip O’Brien of OW Ranch. The award was presented at the Regional Forester’s Awards ceremony, held in Ogden, Utah.

“Working together, this team has harnessed the financial and labor support of several organizations which have contributed almost $800,000 for completion of the project,” said Intermountain Region Deputy Director David Rosenkrance. “Trout Unlimited has played a key role in garnering support for this endeavor and sponsored several volunteer days. Thank you for your efforts to improve our environment.”

The Tincup Creek Stream Restoration Project is “a large-scale, multi-phased effort to improve ecosystem function and habitat for cutthroat trout and other native fish species.” The project area includes five miles of “degraded stream on Caribou-Targhee National Forest lands. Plans are to wrap up the project in 2020.

“We are thrilled to receive this award on behalf of all the partners and volunteers that have made the Tincup project possible,” said Leslie Steen, Snake River Headwaters Project Manager for Trout Unlimited.

“More than 15 partners have come together to pull in the same direction out of recognition of the project’s importance for native cutthroat trout and other native species. Many of the funding partners doubled and tripled down for multiple years of support.”

According to Steen, partnerships have been a critical component of the project.

The Tincup Creek stream restoration project area is located above the junction of Highway 34 (Tincup Highway) and USFS Road #117 (Tincup/Bridge Creek Road), between Wayan, Idaho, and Freedom, Wyoming.

According to Steen, Tincup Creek within the project area has been “impaired and degraded for more than 60 years, with the primary cause of the degradation linked to aerial spraying of willows in 1956.”
The loss of willows “precipitated the destabilization of the stream and led to the loss of meander bends and stream length, steepened gradients, channel downcutting, and an unhealthy, disconnected floodplain and riparian zone.”

According to Trout Unlimited, the overall goals of the project are: “to restore stream channel and floodplain processes and function to allow for all parts of the aquatic system to interact with each other.”
Stream restoration techniques have included:
• building floodplain benches,
• transplanting whole willows,
• reconnecting historic meanders,
• adding large woody debris,
• elevating riffles for floodplain reconnection,
• and reinforcing naturally occurring beaver dams.

“It’s been an amazing journey from idea to fruition, with great partners like Trout Unlimited and all of our funding partners,” said Lee Mabey, Forest Fisheries Biologist with the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

“Together, great things get done for our aquatic species.”
Volunteers from local Trout Unlimited chapters based in Idaho Falls, Star Valley, and Jackson Hole have assisted each year with the restoration effort.