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2015 Accomplishments

By The Numbers

The Forest Service’s more than 310 fish biologists and aquatic ecologists, working with many agency hydrologists, engineers, foresters, and other natural resource specialists, and hundreds of Federal, State, and nongovernmental partners, achieved the following accomplishments in 2015:

  • 3,465 stream miles enhanced or restored
  • 29,763 lake acres enhanced or restored
  • 162 road-stream crossings removed or upgraded for aquatic organism passage
  • 1,899 miles road decommissioned
  • 2,500 individual restoration projects with partners

Regional Accomplishments

Aquatic Organism Passage at Dams

Knutson Dam Improvement Project

Chippewa National Forest, Northeastern Region

STATE: Minnesota

  • More than 30 miles restored for aquatic connectivity on the Mississippi River and tributaries.
  • More than 72,000 acres of lakes reconnected, including world-class walleye fisheries on Cass and Winnibigoshish Lakes.

Forest Service Contribution: $500,000
Partner Contribution: $600,000
Total Project Cost: $1,100,000

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership, Ottertail Power Company

Knutson Dam was originally built on the Mississippi River in the early 1900s as a logging dam, enabling the downstream movement of harvested timber. In 1926, the Forest Service purchased the dam under Public Law 270 and became responsible for its management and maintenance. With the dam in disrepair, the Chippewa National Forest and its many partners removed the aging dam and installed a rock arch rapids, one the most innovative technologies currently available, to maintain lake levels and restore aquatic and hydrologic connectivity. Public safety and recreational fishing access was greatly improved, as was spawning and rearing habitat for walleye, northern pike, and many other species to more than 30 miles of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, including 72,000 acres of connected lake habitat.

A photo of the Knutson Dam before revitalization effort.

Pre-Project: The aging Knutson Dam on the Mississippi River, in 2014, blocking fish migration and creating a safety hazard. Photo Credit: Todd Tisler

A photo of a dam removed to provide fish passage.

Post-Project: The dam removed and a rock arch rapids installed to maintain lake levels while providing fish passage. Photo Credit: Todd Tisler


Cedar Creek Road and Stream Improvement Project

Lolo National Forest, Northern Region

STATE: Montana

  • Relocated road out of the Cedar Creek floodplain.
  • Installed large wood for in-stream habitat along 2.3 miles of fluvial bull trout and Westslope cutthroat habitat.

Forest Service Contribution: $400,000
Partner Contribution: $40,000
Total Project Cost: $440,000

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Trout Unlimited, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Cedar Creek is identified in the interagency Bull Trout Conservation Strategy as one of the coldest, most climate resistant streams within the Clark Fork Basin for bull trout. It still hosts a small, remnant population of bull trout that spawn in this section of stream. This integrated project removed more than 10,000 yards of sediment from the floodplain and restored large wood habitat creating more than 100 pools along 2.3 miles of stream. Trout Unlimited played a critical role in the success of this project.

A photo of heavy equipment moving road prism from a floodplain.

Heavy equipment removing the road prism from the floodplain. Constructed large wood material creating habitat complexity for bull trout and Westslope cuthroat trout. Photo Credit: Jon Hansen

A photo of two Bull Trout in a river

Large fluvial bull trout utilizing Cedar Creek for spawning. Photo Credit: Aubree Benson

Floodplain Restoration and Biodiversity

Trout Creek Watershed Restoration and Flood Resiliency Projects

Pike and San Isabel National Forest, Rocky Mountain Region

STATE: Colorado

  • Rebuilt highway stream crossing with floodplain and stream channel design to withstand impacts from future flooding.
  • Monitored seasonal changes in stream temperature throughout upper watershed and monitored a rare caddisfly found in one spring.

Forest Service Contribution: $8,000
Partner Contribution: $50,000
Total Project Cost: $58,000

Colorado Department of Transportation, University of Southern Colorado, Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife

The Trout Creek subwatershed has numerous springs supporting one of two known rare caddisfly populations. Numerous anthropogenic activities have occurred here in the last 100 years. Three years ago, a flood damaged the support structures under a highway bridge near the spring’s source. The Forest Service cooperated in developing a new floodplain to dissipate high flows and is studying the ecology of the caddisfly to ensure its persistence. Scientists from the National Stream & Aquatic Ecology Center, the regional office, the Pike and San Isabel National Forest, and the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife are working together to understand the ecology of the caddisfly and restore this unique system.

A photo of a before picture of a floodplain and riparian area.

Pre-Project: Floodplain and riparian area before the project, showing incision, erosion, and grazing impact. Photo Credit: Joe Gurierri

A photo of willow growth and riparian improvement

Post-Project: Willow growth and riparian improvement following grazing exclusion and floodplain restoration. Photo Credit: Joe Gurierri

Restoring Native Fish

Paiute Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Intermountain Region

STATE: California

  • Nine stream miles restored for Paiute cutthroat trout, federally-listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Forest Service Contribution: $50,000
Partner Contribution: $300,000
Total Project Cost: $350,000

California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Paiute cutthroat trout (listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened) is the rarest trout in North America, its historic range is limited to 9 miles of Silver King Creek in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. In 2013, after 12 years of planning efforts and overcoming legal challenges, 9 miles of Silver King Creek were chemically treated to remove nonnative trout, which displaced Paiute cutthroat trout. The final treatment was completed in 2015. Paiute cutthroat trout are planned be released back into their historic range in summer of 2016.

A photo of a Forest Service applying rotenone to a river.

Forest Service biologist applying rotenone, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved fish toxicant, to remove rainbow trout from Silver King Creek in order to restore one of North America’s rarest fish, the Paiute cutthroat trout. Photo Credit: Rachel Van Horne

A photo of a Paiute cutthroat trout

After 12 years of planning efforts and legal challenges, the Paiute cutthroat trout was returned to 9 miles of native habitat on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service

Aquatic Organism Passage at Roads

Cripple Branch Culvert Replacement Project

Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, Southern Region

STATE: Arkansas

  • 1.8 miles restored for aquatic organism passage and flood resiliency

Forest Service Contribution: $95,000
Partner Contribution: $80,000
Total Project Cost: $175,000

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A perched culvert on Cripple Branch was determined to be a barrier to fish passage during the Southern Research Station’s Center for Aquatic Technology Transfer inventory of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. The conventional culvert was also slowing down velocities upstream during high flows, which caused bed load material to accumulate upstream of the structure and create a large drop at the outlet and associated channel erosion. In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest installed a stream simulation design bottomless arch culvert to allow for aquatic organism passage. The new road-stream crossing allows for aquatic species migration, natural movement of stream bedload, increased flood resiliency of the road network, and increased safety for vehicle crossing.

A photo of a before picture of a fish passage culvert

The Center for Aquatic Technology Transfer (CATT) inventoried many culverts across the forest, helping to prioritize Cripple Branch as a barrier to aquatic organism passage due to the perched outlet and lack of natural substrate within the road-stream crossing. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service

an after photo of a fish culvert

The forest’s fish biologist and engineering staff collaborated with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to install a typical stream simulation design, including a natural substrate channel and sizing to pass a 100-year flood event and associated woody material. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service


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