January 2016 News from the Western Native Trout Initiative, a project of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the National Fish Habitat Partnership.  
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Weber River (UT) Project update 


Project Title: Weber River, Utah, watershed improvements to enhance native fish habitat beyond three restrictive barriers.

Partners: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Trout Unlimited, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah Department of Transportation, Desert Fish Habitat Partnership (DFHP)

Project Description: This project was funded to protect native fishes and improve water use efficiency for water users in the Weber River drainage, Utah. The water users were faced with a challenge of maintaining their failing infrastructure on the Weber River.  By working together, the water users were able to leverage their resources to reconstruct their diversion and fisheries interests were able to incorporate fish passage and screening elements into the project.  The project re-connects 17.5 river miles and allows native Bonneville Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki utah) and Bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus) to pass one mainstem diversion and two culvert barriers that had fragmented mainstem and spawning habitats in two tributaries.  Both Bluehead sucker and Bonneville Cutthroat Trout have experienced extensive population declines and range contraction.  In the Weber River, Bluehead sucker occur in three remaining fragmented reaches with the strongest population in the Weber River confined below the diversion structure.  Allowing passage around this diversion provides Bluehead sucker access to canyon habitat.  Large fluvial Bonneville Cutthroat Trout have been virtually eliminated from river mainstems rangewide, but still persist within isolated mainstem segments of the Weber River unable to migrate back to spawning grounds in tributary streams.  Each reach in the Weber River supporting these species has been fragmented by mainstem diversions threatening the population resiliency, genetic diversity and long-term persistence of both species.

To facilitate the upstream movement of fish from the lower Weber drainage upstream into the Strawberry Creek and Gordon Creek drainages, project funds were used to design, engineer and re-build the Strawberry Creek culvert, a step-pool complex and riffle reconstruction in Gordon Creek to facilitate fish passage, and to build a pool/weir fish passage at the mainstem Power Weber River diversion.  This is the final phase of an existing project intended to protect native fish and improve the water withdrawal efficiency for the water companies.  This project advances a larger scale effort to remove additional barriers located upstream to reconnect an additional 10 miles of mainstem river.   

The WNTI Steering Committee visited the Weber River sites in November 2015 as part of a Steering Committee meeting in Salt Lake City.  Our thanks to all project partners, and especially to Paul Burnett from Trout Unlimited for spearheading the project and leading our site visit! 

Step pools in Gordon Creek, Weber River, UT

Lower Weber River fish ladder


WNTI Steering Committee members touring one of the project sites

WNTI Steering Committee on Weber River site visit, November 2015

Additional information:  Weber River, Utah, was named one of10 Waters to Watch” by NFHP in 2012.   Click here or here for more information.    

YouTube Videos about Weber River Projects
Weber River Riparian Restoration  
Lower Weber River Diversion Channel Reconstruction
Lower Weber River Diversion North Side   
Lower Weber River Diversion Fish Removal 2
Lower Weber River Diversion South Side 
Roger Wilson, WNTI Vice Chairman retires 
Roger Wilson, Fisheries Branch Chief for Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Vice Chairman of the WNTI Steering Committee, retired on January 1, 2016.  Roger will remain on the WNTI Steering Committee through June 2016 representing the Middle and Northern Rockies region. The WNTI Steering Committee gratefully thanks Roger for his years of dedication in conserving and protecting native trout across the western U.S. and wishes him a happy retirement! 

Julie Meka Carter, WNTI Chair thanks Roger Wilson for his years of service to WNTI and western native trout at the November Steering Committee meeting.


Chasing Native Trout Campaign 

You can still subscribe to WNTI's first social media campaign, called Chasing Native Trout. The campaign is public facing and shares a beautiful video shot in southwestern Colorado, and the opportunity to subscribe to four e-newsletters.  Each e-newsletter focuses on where to find one species of western native trout: Bonneville Cutthroat Trout (Utah), Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Washington), Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (Nevada) and Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout (Colorado).  

WNTI would like to thank the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nevada Department of Wildlife, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife fisheries staff for their help creating and fact-checking content for the e -newsletters.  

If we have piqued your interest, you can see more here.  

Please note that, due to email anti-spam rules, subscribers to the "regular" WNTI newsletter (the one you are reading right now) cannot be automatically subscribed to the Chasing Native Trout e-newsletter series. You will need to subscribe at the link above.  


There will be a Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Symposium at the Western Division American Fisheries Society meeting, March 21-24, 2016, in Reno, Nevada. Lahontan Cutthroat Trout: Advancing Biology, Conservation and Management will promote the exchange of current knowledge and status, research, new developments, and successes and challenges of LCT restoration.   More information on the meeting can be found here.

Ryan P. Kovach et al. produced a new synthesis paper, Impacts of climatic variation on trout: a global synthesis and path forward,  a systematic review to describe how temporal variation in temperature and streamflow influences trout ecology in fresh ecosystems.  Download the online version of the article here.
The November 2015 issue of Alaska Fish and Wildlife News features an article about water rights and water reservations in Alaska, including a project funded by WNTI to collect hydrologic and biological data needed to acquire legal water rights to protect natural seasonal lake levels for three trophy cutthroat trout lakes (Turner, Eagle, and Orchard) in Southeast Alaska.  You can read the article here.  

High Country news published an article January 28, 2016: How to shelter mountain streams in a changing world, on bull trout conservation featuring Wade Fredenberg from the U.S. Forest Service.  Read it here.
The Coastal Fish Habitat Partnerships Fall newsletter can be found here.   The Winter newsletter can be found here.    
There is a new habitat Restoration Series hosted by the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) starting in February.  Several of the webinars focus on aquatic restoration, including march 24th Incorporating Nongame Habitat Features into Stream Restoration Projects. To receive an email notification when registration opens, send your email address to  Click here to access the Restoration Webinar Series recording archive.   

Thank you to all who made end-of-year donations to support our conservation work!  Our very special thanks to Orvis and Bass Pro Shops!


The future of native trout conservation depends directly on the generosity of individuals like you who care about sustaining healthy western watersheds.  When you give to WNTI, 100% of your donation benefits native trout - there are no overhead or administrative fees.  We leverage and match all donations alongside dedicated federal funds to jump-start critical, on-the-ground, locally led conservation projects within the last, best rivers and watersheds across the West.  To read more about how you can help, click here.

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Foundation for Western Fish and Wildlife is WNTI's 501c3 fiscal sponsor and accepts tax exempt donations on our behalf. To make an online donation to WNTI, please click on the DONATE HERE button below.
Operating under the guidance of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Western Native Trout Initiative is governed by a Steering Committee that represents 12 western states, 5 federal resource management agencies, tribes, and nonprofit fisheries conservation organizations. 

Julie Meka-Carter, Chair, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Jon Sjoberg, Vice Chair, Nevada Department of Wildlife
Roger Wilson, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Bruce McIntosh, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Roger Harding, Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Lee Nelson, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Jeff Dillon, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Craig Burley, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Melissa Dickard, Bureau of Land Management
Scott Spaulding, U.S. Forest Service
Robert Clarke, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Warren Colyer, Trout Unlimited

Kelly Hepler, Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Ed Schriever, Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies


Therese Thompson, Project Coordinator

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