access to vital spawning habitat for some trout and other native fish.
Across the West, many rivers and watersheds are fragmented by old diversion dams and other irrigation infrastructure. That’s a big problem for trout, which need access to the full range of river habitat in order to thrive. For Trout Unlimited, upgrading these obsolete or inefficient irrigation systems offers a tremendous opportunity to restore rivers. With the help of Orvis funding, TU recently completed an exciting “reconnection” project on the Salt River in west-central Wyoming that should boost both the fish habitat and the fishing.
The Salt River is home to native Yellowstone cutthroat trout, as well as wild rainbows and browns. But they faced a big obstacle: an aging, solitary diversion dam imposed a two-foot-high vertical barrier to fish movement. While adult fish could likely clear the hurdle most of the year, smaller trout and other native species weren’t able to move upstream.