National Forest Foundation

Yaak Valley Forest Council Fights For Fish in Northwest Montana

NFF Grant Partners and Projects


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.

Headwaters crew dowloading stream thermograph on the West Fork Yaak River.

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.

Eradicating weeds with non-toxic sprays.

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.

Restored stream in the Yaak River Valley.

Related Posts

NFF Funding Supports Fish Habitat in Colorado

Thanks to generous NFF grant funding, the Town of Breckenridge, Colorado has worked closely with the U.S. Forest Service and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps to close and revegetate multiple unsustainable motorcycle trails and roads in an area that provides critical habitat for the native Colorado cutthroat trout.

Read more

Local Utah Contractor Supports Fish Habitat in Mill Creek

Mecham Brothers Inc. joined with the National Forest Foundation and the US Forest Service in May of 2015 for the Mill Creek Culvert Replacement Project on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The new culvert will help restore Mill Creek closer to its natural condition, supporting healthy conditions for Bonneville cutthroat trout, which has been in the creek for many years.

Read more

Citizen Scientists in Colorado Monitor Fish Populations with NFF Grant

The fisheries crew for the White River National Forest has been working for years to develop a better understanding of the existence and whereabouts of native cutthroat trout populations. While the fisheries team had already surveyed many front-country tributaries, much was still unknown about remote streams in the Forest. In 2015, Eagle River Watershed Council, with support from the National Forest Foundation, teamed up with Matt Grove, Aquatic Specialist, and the fisheries crew to find a solution to this problem.

Read more

Share this post on social media


Support on-the-ground conservation

Help ensure the NFF and our partners can continue doing important work like this on our National Forests.

Donate Now