The Yankee Fork of the Salmon River, located northeast of the town of Stanley, has been highly impacted by legacy mining and timber harvest activities. Cassi Wood, TU’s Central Idaho Project Manager, in coordination with several partners, has been implementing the Bonanza City Stream & Floodplain Restoration Project each summer since 2018, with final major construction completed in 2020.
The 0.83 mile section of river and floodplain was repaired from the damage caused by the historic dredge-mining conducted in the early 1950’s. Reconstructing the river included removal of more than 100,000 cubic yards of dredge tailings that confined the river to a flume-like channel. Then, new sections of river channel were built, in addition to rehabilitating existing sections of river. The final goals and objectives for the finished project are for the river to have a level of sinuosity and complexity that more closely resembles the historic conditions that the Yankee Fork chinook salmon and steelhead populations evolved to thrive in. In October, Cassi was delighted to observe adult Chinook salmon near the project site.
This year, revegetation of the project area’s riparian areas, uplands, and floodplains is being completed. Monitoring of the project will occur over the next several years while the newly constructed river channel begins to seal and fish populations adjust to the new conditions.