LANDER — Native fish now have better access to spawning habitat in Western Wyoming streams after restoration of 100 miles of tributaries in 2012 through seven projects, one of which is ongoing.
The work, spearheaded by nationwide sportsmen's group Trout Unlimited, was also supported by Westmoreland Kemmerer Inc., a subsidiary of Westmoreland Coal Co.
"With the generous donations from Westmoreland, we have made great strides in helping native and wild fish populations thrive in western Wyoming," said Nick Walrath, Trout Unlimited's Green River project manager. "The improved habitat will further enhance Wyoming's reputation for world-class trout fishing."
The donations came in the form of more than 60 truckloads of rock. The rock was used to improve man-made diversions along the stream that typically have to be built year after year and maintained by landowners or managers. But most important for Trout Unlimited, the rock diversions allow trout migration for spawning. This, the organization claims, will improve fishing on the streams and decrease maintenance from private landowners.
"TU's projects are designed to provide win-win solutions for all stakeholders," said Cory Toye, director of TU's Wyoming Water Project. "We are pleased that Westmoreland values our work and is willing to participate in watershed-scale efforts to improve native fish habitat conditions. With their help, it's working."
Specifically, the restoration efforts focused on migratory corridors for Bonneville cutthroat trout, Colorado River cutthroat trout and other native fish on tributaries to the Bear River and Green River like Spring Creek of the Bear, and Horse, Piney, Cottonwood and Gooseberry Creeks of the Green.
According to Trout Unlimited, these fish passageways have become blocked and fragmented by irrigation dams and water being diverted from the stream, which prevent the upstream movement of native fish into historic spawning and rearing areas.
"Habitat improvement is a very important part of Westmoreland's operations," said Don Lamborn, environmental and engineer supervisor of Westmoreland Kemmerer Inc.
Trout Unlimited hasn't limited its involvement to projects like this. It has also actively fought the possibility of a pipeline
that would divert billions of gallons of water from the Green River and Flaming Gorge to Colorado's Front Range. The group toured the region in 2012 with a video and presentation
that depicts the Green River as the lifeblood of the area through which it flows.
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