- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) - Blaine County commissioners in central Idaho have approved permits that will allow workers to improve fish passage on a key stream for chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports (https://bit.ly/Y8Fdy2) that commissioners last week approved work to replace a culvert with a bridge on Pole Creek, a tributary of the Salmon River and designated critical habitat for the fish.

Work will also include restoring a historic river channel that was cut off when the culvert was installed. The replacement bridge is planned for a straight part of the river. Work is planned to start this week.

“What a great project,” County Commissioner Jacob Greenberg told property owners Mike and Mark Henslee in approving the stream-alteration and flood plain conditional-use permits. “You guys are doing a really good service. I think everybody wins from this.”

Experts say the culvert during high water constricts stream flow and speeds up the current so that fish can’t swim against it. Two other culverts have already been replaced farther upstream.

The Henslee family in Hagerman owns the Salmon Falls Land & Livestock Co., which sought reauthorization of its permit to divert water from the creek.

Mark Moulton, water and fisheries program leader with the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, said the authorization would require the work on the stream to make it compatible with the recovery of the fish.

“They’ve been willing and eager to enter into that dialogue,” Moulton told the newspaper in April.

The Henslee family, in return for receiving government funding, has agreed to leave at least 12 cubic-feet-per-second of water in the creek. That is expected to increase water volume and lower water temperature.

The family has already received permits from the Idaho Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The final step was to get permits from Blaine County.

The work is planned about a half mile upstream from the junction of Pole Creek Road and State Highway 75.


Information from: Idaho Mountain Express, https://www.mtexpress.com

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