Hayden Creek, located near Tendoy, Idaho is one of the most productive tributaries of the Lemhi River. It contains up to 40% of spawning Chinook Salmon in the Lemhi River basin each year along with populations of Steelhead and Bull Trout. Despite the high percentage of Chinook that make the journey up Hayden Creek to spawn, there are still many issues that impact native fish habitat including fast moving water without much shelter or cover for juvenile fish.
Working with local partners and landowners, TU project manager Matt Green started construction work in the summer of 2021 to improve fish habitat by adding anchored wood structures and boulder fields. The wood structures give fish space to hide along their journey by redirecting the stream flow to create eddies and pools that help create slower moving water. I joined the team in the summer of 2022 and a second phase of the project was completed shortly after in August. As one of my first projects, we worked to add more embedded structures and boulder fields, along with unanchored wood in the stream and on the bank. During future springtime high water events, the unanchored wood will move downstream and rack up on the boulder fields and structures, giving Hayden Creek the material needed to naturally maintain and enhance fish habitat.
After construction was completed, volunteers from the TU River of No Return Chapter showed their passion for local streams and fish by battling with shovels and pickaxes in rocky soil to plant 70 native willows, alders, dogwoods, and cottonwoods near constructed structures and in areas where there was a lack of riparian vegetation. As the trees and shrubs grow, they will provide important fish cover, shade, and help protect the streambank from erosion. Once large enough, they will also catch woody debris as it moves downstream, creating even more habitat and stream diversity for years to come.
Written by by Joe Stewart, Salmon Basin Project Manager based in Salmon, Idaho.