The Weber River was nominated as a "Legacy Project" denoting it as a project that has made a significant impact on fish habitat conservation. These projects are selected from previous years Waters to Watch projects and help to highlight the National Fish Habitat Partnership as it celebrates its 10-year Anniversary in 2016.
This project was funded to protect native fish species and improve water use efficiency for water companies in the Weber River drainage, Utah. It re-connects 17.5 river miles and allows native Bonneville Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki utah) and Bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus) to pass one mainstem diversion and two culvert barriers that had fragmented mainstem and spawning habitats in two tributaries. Both Bluehead sucker and Bonneville Cutthroat Trout have experienced extensive population declines and range contraction. In the Weber River, Bluehead sucker occur in three remaining fragmented reaches with the strongest population in the Weber River confined below the diversion structure. Allowing passage around this diversion provides Bluehead sucker access to canyon habitat. Large fluvial Bonneville Cutthroat Trout have been virtually eliminated from river mainstems rangewide, but still persist within isolated mainstem segments of the Weber River, unable to migrate back to spawning grounds in tributary streams. Each reach in the Weber River supporting these two species has been fragmented by mainstem diversions threatening the population resiliency, genetic diversity and long-term persistence of both species.
To facilitate the upstream movement of fish from the lower Weber drainage upstream into the Strawberry Creek and Gordon Creek drainages, project funds were used to design, engineer and re-build the Strawberry Creek culvert. A step-pool complex and riffle reconstruction in Gordon Creek was created to facilitate fish passage, and to build a pool/weir fish passage at the mainstem Power Weber River diversion. This was the final phase of an existing project intended to protect native fish and improve the water withdrawal efficiency for the water companies. This project advances a larger scale effort to remove additional barriers located upstream to reconnect an additional 10 miles of mainstem river.
Human Interest/Community Benefit:
In 2008, Trout Unlimited and many project partners were contacted by the water users on the Weber River at the mouth of Weber Canyon near Ogden, UT. The water users were faced with a challenge of maintaining their failing infrastructure on the Weber River. By engaging the fish community, the water users were able to leverage their resources to reconstruct their diversion. Likewise, the fisheries interests were able to incorporate fish passage and screening elements into the project. Unfortunately, the original project, as designed in 2011, had serious flaws, which limited fish passage only to moderate flows, and the screens experienced clogging. In 2012, with funding from the two Fish Habitat Partnerships and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, a design was developed to retrofit important high flow passage at this site.
This project was funded with $79,500 in National Fish Habitat Partnership funds, $79,500 National Fish Passage Program Funds, and $115,000 non-federal funds for a total project cost of $274,000.
The project is a unique partnership of Federal funding between the National Fish Passage Program and the NFHP Partnerships.
U.S Fish and Wildlife Service
Desert Fish Habitat Partnership
Western Native Trout Initiative
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Utah Department of Transportation