• Mining site restored to prime salmon habitat

    Summer 2013 update:

    Steelhead fry return to the Yankee Fork! Watch this short Reclamation clip:


    The Yankee Fork in Custer County, Idaho is one of the major tributaries to the Salmon River. With its headwaters in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, the Yankee Fork flows clear and cold almost 28 miles to join the Salmon River, draining about 122,000 acres. Because of the decline in fish numbers, the Yankee Fork subbasin is a priority subbasin in the FCRPS BiOp.

    Dredge mining in the 1940s and early 1950s left behind a series of ponds on the east side of the river that are connected to the Yankee Fork during the spring runoff period and thus accessible by Chinook salmon for only a few weeks of the year.

    At right, the Yankee Fork before restoration:






    Click below to watch a video about the Yankee Fork Restoration Project.

    In 2012, the Bureau of Reclamation worked with the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, the U.S. Forest Service and others to complete modifications to the inlet into the ponds. Approximately 20,000 cubic yards of existing tailings were re-graded, and the ponds were partially filled to create a free flowing side channel. Large wood habitat structures, pools, and riffles were constructed within the new channel to resemble a natural stream environment. Workers created wetland, floodplain, and upland habitat adjacent to the new side channel, in addition to planting native species of vegetation.

    The pond rehabilitation project provides year-round habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon as well as spawning habitat for returning adult Chinook salmon. Native fish, including bull trout, also benefit.


    q In 2012, the Secretary of the Interior highlighted the Yankee Fork Restoration as part of the Administration's America's Great Outdoors River Initiative. Read more here.

    Yankee Fork after restoration. 





  • Project at a glance
    Location: East side of the Yankee Fork River in Custer County, Idaho, between river mile 6.6 at Cearley Creek Bridge and river mile 6.0 at Cabin Bridge.

    Biological objectives: Improve the hydraulic connection of existing off channelponds with the river and provide additional complex side channel habitat to help increase spawning habitat and smolt production in the area.      


    Species: Snake River spring/summer chinook, Snake River steelhead - priority populations in the FCRPS BiOp; bull trout


    Partners: Bureau of Reclamation, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Bonneville Power Administration, Idaho Department of Fish & Game, Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation, Idaho Office of Species Conservation, Trout Unlimited, U.S. Forest Service – Salmon-Challis National Forest


    References: FCRPS BiOp RPA #35