The Yaak Headwaters Restoration Project, spearheaded by the Yaak Valley Forest Council works with multiple agency partners and NFF to restore streams, mitigate noxious weeds and monitor native trout habitat.
Our stream temperature monitoring program measures water temperature at 18 different locations throughout the Yaak River valley on the Kootenai National Forest in Northwest Montana. These waterproof thermographs take a reading every half hour, and are then downloaded and maintained by our crew twice a year. The data is catalogued locally as well as in the national database of the Rocky Mountain Research Station. This long term project provides invaluable data to help protect native fish that rely on cold water to survive. In a changing climate, baseline data is essential to determine appropriate management activities.
We have also eradicated noxious weeds at several key recreation sites along the Yaak River. Using non-toxic methods near the water, we have eliminated the seed sources that can be spread by vehicles, pets, wildlife, humans, wind and the river itself. We have found that vinegar, Epsom salts, and dish soap combine to be a lethal spray for many weeds including hawkweed, canada thistle and oxeye daisy. This program is essential in maintaining native plant diversity, while keeping harmful chemicals out of the water.
The Yaak Headwaters Restoration Partnership has decommissioned more than 60 miles of roads and restored more than 100 stream crossings to their natural state! Old forest roads and failing culverts contribute the sediment that is a huge threat to trout spawning habitat. Our monitoring program identifies the worst culprits and then we work with U.S. Forest Service hydrologists and state fisheries biologists to fix the problems. Removing roads and culverts not only eliminates the harmful sediment, it also opens up habitat and restores resiliency in the system. Thanks to NFF we have made great progress in the Yaak valley.