My work this summer has included working alongside my mentor, Bryce Oldemeyer, on projects related to documenting and monitoring restoration efforts on Rainey Creek (major tributary to the South Fork), water and organic matter sampling on the Henry’s Fork, and fence maintenance and monitoring along the Henry’s Fork. I have many responsibilities and each week I have something new to work on.
Every Thursday, I go out with Kam to various locations such as Pinehaven, Last Chance, and Island Park, to collect water and volatile organic matter samples. We use an instrument to collect integrated water samples that can then be tested later for total nitrogen and phosphorus. I also measure the flow rate and depth of the river. After this, we use a small net to collect organic matter that floats down the river that is later dried and examined.
Another one of my primary responsibilities is to monitor the fences along Last Chance and Pinehaven to make sure that cattle can’t access the riparian areas in and along the Henry’s Fork River. At Last Chance, I wade across the river, trying not to drown, so I can access the fence on the far side of the river. Once there, I fix it up and check for any damages. For Pinehaven, I drive down the very rough dirt road, hoping not to crash or blow a tire, so that I can check that fence for any necessary repairs. I enjoy my time alone out there; the scenery is fantastic, and I’m surrounded by an abundance of wildlife.
My primary project this summer has revolved around documenting and monitoring restoration efforts on Rainey Creek; a major spawning and rearing tributary used by native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout from the South Fork Snake River. Over the last four weeks, I’ve made several trips to Swan Valley to survey the upper and lower Third Creek (tributary to Rainey Creek) restoration reaches, as well as three other Rainey Creek restoration reaches. Some of these sites have been completed and others are planned to start later this fall. Among compiling information on stream length, maps of each location, restoration design and plans, objectives, and short-term and long-term monitoring efforts for each reach, I’ve used a drone to collect aerial footage of these sites. It’s amazing to see the difference and how well the completed restoration projects have improved the habitat. This footage and documentation will help monitor the benefits and successes of these restoration projects, as well as help meet final report obligations for various funders who supported these projects. Hopefully, these documentation and monitoring efforts will help highlight the benefits these projects provide to stream habitat, and the native aquatic species that use this habitat, and lead to many more projects down the road.
So far, I have really enjoyed my time as an intern. The work is satisfying and it’s great to be outdoors. I’m becoming much more passionate about the work that HFF is doing, and I hope that I can continue to work on conservation once my time here comes to an end.
Completed restoration project of Lower Third creek.
Photo of Upper Third creek, which will finish being restored in Fall of 2021.
Aerial image of a redd, a cutthroat trout spawning nest, near the USFS work station. Redds are indicators that HFF’s South Fork Initiative restoration projects have been successful in restoring important trout spawning habitat!