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Grant Keeps Farmers, Fishers Working Together on the Upper Bear River

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
The Bonneville cutthroat trout is Utah's state fish and conservation efforts on the Bear River have been successful in improving their survival rates.
Credit Courtesy: / Trout Unlimited
Trout Unlimited
Continued restoration on the upper Bear River has been made possible by funding from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program as part of last year's Farm Bill.

  Fishers and farmers have been working together more than a decade to make life better for Bonneville cutthroat trout on the upper Bear River. Funding from the Farm Bill passed by Congress last year will help that collaboration continue.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is pumping another $1.2 million into improving irrigation structures and fish safety.

Warren Colyer works for Trout Unlimited, the conservation group that has led this multi-organization effort.

“It’s a good partnership,” he says, “because we come to them with ideas about how we can improve the streams for the fish and simultaneously make things easy on them.”

The project will help farmers by replacing some old irrigation canals and diversions with new ones. Colyer says more fish will survive thanks to screens, updated diversions and stronger instream flows.

“We always say the farmers and ranchers are kind of the first environmentalists,” he says. “They’re stewards of the land. So we really think we have a common vision and common goals.”

The partnership already has paid for more than $3 million worth of improvements along 30 miles of the Bear.

Trout Unlimited is working on similar projects in Colorado, Idaho and Washington state.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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