Weber River, Utah (2012)

Purpose of the project:

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 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.

Project Timeline:
2012 -2014

Economic Calculator
results

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.

Partners:

The project is a unique partnership of Federal funding
between the National Fish Passage Program and the NFHP Partnerships. Partners include: · U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
·
Desert Fish Habitat Partnership · Western Native Trout Initiative · Trout Unlimited · Utah
Division of Wildlife Resources · Utah Department of Transportation

Updates (Completed
in August and December): WNTI and DFHP are in the process (May
25-27) of having a videographer video-tape the three project sites on the Weber
River, taking live shots of the two species, and collecting video-taped interviews
with various project collaborators. The video will be designed to be the
foundation for a Blueheads and
Bonnevilles outreach campaign that we are launching this summer to
celebrate the two species and the project work completed so far. This campaign
will help to raise public awareness and funding for additional work that still
needs to be done. AFWA/NFHP also contributed funds for the video project. The video will be completed by August 31,
2016.

2012 Waters to Watch