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Science has formed the core of HFF’s fisheries conservation approach since it began funding university research in the 1980s. HFF hired its first research director in 1994, marking the founding of its in-house science program. From operating fish ladders to providing real-time water quality data to quantifying recreational use, HFF’s current science and technology team brings the latest information to a broad range of watershed stakeholders and issues. HFF’s scientific knowledge and data are translated into high-quality fishing experiences through collaborations with agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and water users such as hydroelectric companies and irrigators.

Science and technology work spans four primary but intersecting subject areas:

Hydrology and Water Management 


First and foremost, trout need water, which is why hydrology and water management has been a cornerstone of HFF’s work since the 1990s. HFF’s predictive models, water-supply summaries, and real-time flow measurement enhance the utility of data collected by state and federal agencies. Research on the relationship between groundwater and surface water has led to development of innovative water conservation strategies that inform the work of HFF’s Farms and Fish program and regional conservation partners.

Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality

HFF studies and monitors aquatic ecology and water quality to assess the ecological health of the river. A real-time water-quality data network provides hour-by-hour measurements of key properties such as temperature and dissolved oxygen, while annual invertebrate (insect) sampling and long-term studies of aquatic vegetation identify trends and provide information that can help managers improve river health, fish habitat, and fishing conditions. This information is also critical to HFF’s Voice of the River work, advocating for the river’s best interest and protecting the river from potentially harmful activities.

Fisheries Biology and Management


Over the decades, HFF’s involvement in fisheries biology has ranged from support of research into factors limiting Rainbow Trout populations to multi-agency inventories of native Cutthroat Trout. Current projects include operation of the Buffalo River fish ladder and detailed studies of how fish use habitat in reaches of the river with abundant aquatic vegetation. HFF’s site-specific fisheries work complements broader programs and management implemented by Idaho Department of Fish and Game to maximize abundance and size of wild trout.

Social Science and Economics


HFF uses social science and economics research to incorporate human factors like the fishing experience, into the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of watershed management. Current work includes assessments of recreational use and river user conflicts, economic value of angling, and socioeconomic tradeoffs among different water management scenarios. HFF has recently developed innovative methods for efficiently estimating river use, and its expertise in this area is sought after by partners.

What have these programs accomplished for the river and our fisheries? Read HFF's latest Annual Report or follow us on social media to learn more.

View our HFF Reports and Publications Library or click here for a glossary of water-related terms.

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