Updated: Sep 13, 2021
In 2020 HFF was limited in the ability to include volunteers in our fieldwork efforts due to the pandemic. With a massive effort from staff, we were able to accomplish the necessary fieldwork, but some things had to wait until we had more man power.
In 2021, while taking necessary health and safety precautions, we were once again able to include volunteers in our fieldwork efforts, and the response has been heartwarming. No sooner did I send out a call for volunteers, than responses came flooding in.
We began asking for volunteers in April and have not had a single week without at least one volunteer joining us since that time, though most weeks we have had multiple volunteers working on a variety of projects. Volunteers helped collect water quality samples, conduct plant collection surveys, count and collect data on spawning trout at the Buffalo River fish ladder trap, conduct snorkel surveys and habitat analysis on the Upper Henry’s Fork, collect flow measurement data on the Lower Henry’s Fork, conduct recreational use surveys, and more!
Kate Long, currently a college student at Brigham Young University of Idaho, assisted HFF at the Buffalo Fish Ladder. Kate helped measure and record fish species, sex, length, and gill lice levels before releasing the trout upstream into the Buffalo river to spawn. This data allows us to quantify run size, run timing, number of spawners, number of return spawners, and other valuable information needed to monitor and understand the Henry’s Fork Rainbow Trout population.
Pictured on the right is our 2021 Washington & Lee intern AJ Mabaka working alongside an HFF volunteer, Jeffery Theobald, to collect free floating plant material from the rivers to assess the amount of nutrients floating downstream in mats of large organic material. This study contributes to the larger Upper River Ph.D. graduate research study Jack McLaren is conducting to assess what factors may be limiting the fishery above the Island Park Reservoir.
On a particularly rainy day, Devin Cao assisted Ph.D. graduate research student Christina Morrissett with her hydrologic study on the Lower Henry’s Fork. Devin helped operate the computer and software necessary for the ADCP boat deployment (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler). The ADCP boat was used to measure river flow at specific transects while floating from the Trestle bridge to the Red Road bridge. In between measurements, Devin made the most of the float and hooked some trout!
We also had a major volunteer effort late July for our first annual river cleanup event. Volunteers in teams led by HFF staff members traveled to various access sites and picked up litter through floating, wading, or walking along the banks of the Henry’s Fork. Our big ticket item for the day was a couch that we pulled from the banks of the river!
Volunteers showed up on short notice when we received a call that corn had been dumped into Big Springs at the bridge, and assisted HFF in removing the corn from the substrate to ensure the health of the fish and discourage others from following suit.
In total, we’ve had over 430 hours of help from volunteers on the Henry’s Fork this Spring and Summer, and we’re not quite finished with the field season yet! We’ve had 3 volunteers that have exceeded 40 volunteer hours this year – Fred Witesman, Laura Andersen, and Cliff Nowell. A huge thank you to all of our volunteers for all of their efforts to help us continue to conserve, protect, and restore the Henry’s Fork!
If you would like to sign up to be an HFF volunteer please visit https://www.henrysfork.org/internship-program and scroll to the bottom of the page. Click on the link under ‘Interested in Volunteering?’ to fill out a volunteer form and be added to an email list. When opportunities arise that fit your volunteer preferences and schedule you will be contacted via email.