Friday, March 19, 2010

Plan proposed to restore Silver Creek

The Nature Conservancy schedules public hearings

Express Staff Writer

Silver Creek is heralded as one of the best trout-fishing streams in the Rockies. Photo by Mountain Express

The Nature Conservancy is seeking public comment on a plan to develop a comprehensive strategy to restore portions of the Silver Creek watershed that are most in need of help.

The nonprofit conservation organization, with offices in Hailey, plans to work with Ecosystem Sciences to develop the watershed enhancement plan. Ecosystem Sciences, a nonprofit consulting firm based in Boise, is scheduled to take a watershed-wide look at Silver Creek to determine which stretches of the mainstem and its tributaries need the most help.

The organization is also charged with determining which restoration methods will provide the greatest conservation benefit for the renowned spring creek fishery near Picabo, a news release from The Nature Conservancy states.

The effort will result in habitat projects that benefit the fishery as well as resident wildlife, the group said.

"The goal of this project is to improve the fish and wildlife habitat on a watershed level at Silver Creek and to make it the most resilient it can be for the long term," said Dayna Gross, manager of The Nature Conservancy's 883-acre Silver Creek Preserve.

According to Gross, Ecosystem Sciences will create a comprehensive, integrated watershed plan for the creek by examining the entire watershed, its tributaries and all local land and water uses.

"We believe this offers an incredible future for Silver Creek," she said.

Under the plan, Ecosystem Sciences will not conduct a new study of the Silver Creek watershed. Instead, the consulting firm will assimilate all of the existing data and studies that have been done in the watershed to develop the comprehensive restoration plan, the news release states.

Local landowners will not be required to follow the plan, though assistance will be available for those who are interested.

Ongoing work at Silver Creek over the past 35 years has been successful in large part because of the community support the creek receives locally, the group states. This new enhancement plan will likewise be driven by community involvement, it says.

The Nature Conservancy will host a series of public hearings to gather input from the public and other interested parties. The first meeting is scheduled for noon on Thursday, March 25, at the Picabo General Store.

Here's a complete list of additional meetings that will be held:

· 3:30 p.m., March 25, at the Hailey office of The Nature Conservancy, at 116 1st Avenue North.

· Noon, April 22, at the Picabo General Store.

· Noon, April 24, at the Picabo General Store.

· 5:30 p.m., April 26, at the Hailey office of The Nature Conservancy.

· Noon, May 5, at the Picabo General Store.

· The final meeting will last all day on May 29 and will be held at the Silver Creek Preserve Visitor Center.

For more information, call Dayna Gross at (208) 788-7910 or email her at Check out the project blog at for more information.

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