Landscape Stewardship Awards - 2021

The Public Lands Foundation (PLF) presents the Upper Salmon Basin Watershed Program (USBWP) with its 2021 Landscape Stewardship Award and this Citation. The PLF grants this recognition to honor private citizens and organizations that work to advance and sustain community-based stewardship on landscapes that include, in whole or in part, public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

Hawley Creek is a tributary of the Lemhi River, which served as key fish and wildlife habitat before changes in irrigation practices over the past century dried up the creek during summer months. Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon and Snake River steelhead, both protected under the ESA as threatened, were disconnected from this habitat and could no longer spawn or rear in the upper watershed. Riparian vegetation all but disappeared; sagebrush was growing in the middle of the stream.

Over the last 10 years, the 7.5 miles of Hawley Creek have been restored via a major partnership with the USBWP in the Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation, along with more than 15 Federal and state agencies, nonprofit conservation partners, landowners, and community members.

The USBWP reflects outstanding leadership and clarity of purpose that has enabled more than 20 organizations and local citizens and businesses to work closely together to realize a shared vision. The USBWP coordinated the project and the participation of many local community organizations and citizens who cooperated to achieve the landscape-scale improvements.

The BLM and these partners have dedicated significant time and resources to the project over its lifespan, and all the partners remain wholly invested in the outcome. The creek is now a thriving riparian ecosystem with perennial stream-flows. Chinook salmon and steelhead are starting to return and spawn the next generation. Sage grouse, songbirds, waterfowl, aquatic insects, and a wide range of wildlife are thriving in the new stream environment. Additional benefits include enhanced water delivery systems for irrigators. These significant, systemic improvements will have lasting impact in the entire Lemhi River watershed.

The partners, with the help of Salmon area teens participating in a youth employment program, have installed 100 beaver dam analogs on Hawley Creek. These structures slow water runoff, store water high in the drainage, and release it slowly during summer months. New fish-friendly irrigation diversions have been designed and installed, removing barriers to fish passage. Willows, cottonwood, and other riparian plant species have been planted to rebuild the stream environment and are now flourishing.

The Public Lands Foundation is pleased to present the Upper Salmon Basin Watershed Program with its 2021 Landscape Stewardship Award and this Citation for invaluable contributions to the stewardship of America’s public landscapes.

Edward Shepard
September 15, 2021