Leveraging Conservation Impact

Boots-on-the-ground projects

There has never been a more impactful time to invest in TU’s mission. Your support is an invaluable anchor at TU that is building the capacity and tools needed to secure additional, unprecedented public funding made available by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. Together, our partnerships are maximizing short- and long-term conservation outcomes needed for fish, people, and communities to thrive.

Here are highlights of just a few of the projects that your support helped launch or advance during TU’s last fiscal year:

Reconnecting Warm Springs Creek in Montana: In a watershed scarred by mining, TU is completing a series of restoration projects to reconnect 64 miles of habitat on Warm Springs for endangered bull trout. Multiple project partners anticipate investing approximately $2 million through 2026 to complete the remaining fish passage work in the watershed to ensure a healthier future for both the fishery and local communities.

Rebuilding floodplains in New Mexico: Little Turkey Creek was scorched by the Whitewater Baldy fire over a decade ago and then scoured to bedrock by flash floods. Thanks to a watershed-based plan and a blend of private and public funding, TU is actively advancing a long-term effort using process-based restoration techniques to capture sediment, rebuild floodplain connectivity, and restore beaver habitat in critical headwater habitat for Gila Trout.

Restoring Olympic Peninsula Steelhead Habitat in Washington: Historically, the Pacific Northwest was the most productive steelhead and salmon region in the world, supporting up to 350 million spawning fish each year, but today runs are just a fraction of what they used to be. TU is addressing diminished salmon and steelhead populations by leading key restoration programs in the Hoh, Clearwater, Queets, Quillayute, and Quinault watersheds on the Olympic Peninsula. Private support helped leverage an additional $9 million+ in public funding in the past year to steward numerous projects through design and implementation phases – improving critical habitat for multiple life stages of wild steelhead.

Restoring the Delaware River in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware: The Delaware River’s 13,539-square-mile watershed supports water supplies that serve more than 13 million people, including New York City’s residents. TU and our partners are completing an impressive array of ongoing projects – many made possible by a $26.1 million funding infusion from the federal infrastructure law – that protect fisheries, mitigate flooding, repair aging infrastructure, and enhance river-related recreational opportunities. The funding is also setting the stage for a dam removal that will open up another 15 miles of habitat.

Connecting Waterways and Seeing Eastern Brook Trout Swim Freely in Maryland: Removing barriers to reconnect waterways allows a stream to be a stream again and provides brook trout with unhindered access to cold tributaries critical to their survival. On a tributary to Blue Lick Run, in the Savage River watershed in western Maryland, TU and partners removed two 20-foot-long perched metal culverts that previously blocked access to 1.8 miles of headwater habitat. Just three short months after the project was completed, TU staff watched as Eastern brook trout moved through the newly constructed, aquatic-friendly box culvert. TU’s ability to secure funding from the infrastructure law multiplies the number of fish passage barrier removal projects we can implement in the Potomac Headwaters.

Recovering Native Trout and Restoring Communities in Wisconsin: The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is home to 1,200 miles of fishable streams and 600 fishable lakes. Over the past few years, TU has opened dozens of miles of previously inaccessible stream habitat in northern Wisconsin by removing barriers such as obsolete dams and perched culverts, which form miniature waterfalls that block fish. Infrastructure law funding – which can only be secured with support like yours – is expanding this work with projects such as culvert removals that will reconnect over 15 miles of trout habitat in the South Branch Oconto River – one of the highest quality coldwater systems on the east side of the Chequamegon–Nicolet National Forest and one of the most visited.

Enlisting the Help of Beavers in the Upper Klamath River in Oregon: On the Sprague River in the Upper Klamath Basin, where the 400,000-acre Bootleg Fire burned in 2021, infrastructure law funding is supporting TU’s work to install beaver dam analogs and other low-tech structures that improve fish habitat for endangered bull trout. Our monitoring work last year has already shown substantial water quality benefits, along with natural beavers moving into the restored project reaches.

Unbuild it and the Fish Will Come – Restoring the Upper Bear River in Wyoming and Utah: A unique variety of Bonneville cutthroat trout calls the Bear River home and migrates exceptional distances throughout the river system in search of cool water and suitable habitat. With infrastructure law funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, and through partnerships with the Western Native Trout Initiative and local landowners, we are upgrading and improving irrigation diversions to remove barriers to fish migration and reconnect 45 miles of important habitat.

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