Idaho Watersheds Project has recently signed a management agreement with the conservation buyer of a 440 acre ranch located on more than one mile of the East Fork of the Salmon River in Custer County, Idaho. IWP's management responsibilities extend to grazing permits on over 45,000 acres of Forest Service administered lands and over 8000 acres of BLM lands.
The long-term intention of the owner and IWP is to restore the damaged riparian and fisheries habitat on the river which has been degraded by over 100 years of livestock ranching and to provide recovery of the upland areas of the ranch in order to maximize wildlife habitat. The river provides spawning and rearing habitat for threatened chinook salmon and steelhead trout, and year-round habitat for similarly threatened bull trout. One spawning redd of chinook salmon was confirmed in the river on the ranch this year, The ranch bottomlands provide critical winter habitat for the remnant White Cloud Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep herd which has dwindled to perhaps 50 individuals. Other species for which the ranch can provide habitat include wolverine, wolves (5 wolves were shot by federal gunners this year within 5 miles of the ranch), river otter, golden and bald eagles, sage grouse, elk and mule deer.
The 40,000 acre Salmon River Breaks Forest Service grazing allotment which is being acquired as part of the sale of the ranch includes seven northern tributary creeks to the Salmon River extending from Thompson Creek on the east to Basin Creek near Stanley on the west. All of these tributary watersheds provide remnant habitat for bull trout, salmon, steelhead and westslope cutthroat trout as well as wolves, bear, wolverine, elk, deer, mountain goat, and perhaps fisher.
IWP looks forward to many years of developing a showplace on these private and federal lands for the values associated with clean water and healthy wildlife habitat.