Thursday, May 30, 2013

Updates from Henry's Fork

By Matthew Ward, Flat Ranch Preserve Manager

This spring, I was quickly reminded how critical The Nature Conservancy’s efforts in the Upper Henry’s Fork have been in protecting important wildlife habitat and migration corridors. Within the first few days after the snow disappeared, we had a grizzly bear, over twenty antelope, moose, and dozens of elk all out on the flat feeding. The pothole wetlands were filled with thousands of boreal chorus frogs and aquatic insects. Trumpeter swans, beaver and mink were out in the river, long-billed curlews were everywhere and dozens of species of songbirds were singing and staking out territory in anticipation of breeding, nesting and rearing.

The vast beauty of Flat Ranch Preserve. Photo ©Chris Little

Our efforts to engage more individuals and organizations in conservation continue to grow in Eastern Idaho and we have partnered with BYU-Idaho, the Upper Snake chapter of the Audubon Society, and the Idaho Master Naturalist to start an annual bird survey that will begin the first week of June. BYU-Idaho has also hired a GIS intern that will be working throughout the next several months to map out ecological zones and begin the first steps to set up long term study sites on the Flat Ranch. We hope that this relationship will grow into the future and give undergraduate students the chance to participate in research and restoration projects in the Upper Henry’s Fork in the years to come.

In preparation for a restoration project we have planned this fall on the Flat Ranch, we will be utilizing BYUI students to help plant over 400 willows along a one mile section of Jesse Creek. The last mile of Jesse Creek will be permanently restored to its historic channel by the end of October. This spring's planting will be the first step towards returning Jesse Creek to a healthy, naturally functioning aquatic corridor.

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