Snake River Restoration Project
TCD works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Teton County, as well as other partner agencies and organizations, in planning and implementing restoration projects on the twenty-two mile long levy corridor portion of the Snake River.
The Upper Snake River lies in the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and is an important piece of the ecological puzzle in one of the last intact functioning temperate ecosystems in the world. In the 1950’s, the USACE constructed straight-line levees along the twenty-two mile stretch of the Snake River just south of Grand Teton National Park. While this engineering feat accomplished the immediate goal of flood control, it resulted in the unintended consequences of scoured gravel bars and reduced ecological function and morphological diversity.
Since the mid 1990’s, the USACE, Teton County, and Teton Conservation District have worked together in an effort to restore riparian function to portions of the Upper Snake to address negative consequences of the Snake River Levee System. With $66 million in authorized funding from the USACE and the Wyoming Congressional Delegation, a test project aimed at increasing the diversity of age classes of riparian vegetation both inside and outside the boundaries of the existing levees. The completed project, located just north of the Wilson Bridge, provided several lessons including:
- The dynamic nature of the Upper Snake River makes the construction of stable in-stream islands prohibitively expensive and,
- Numerous small scale projects will overwhelm local partners, particularly regarding perpetual funding and management continuity.
In 2016, USACE circled back with an update: Find a way to implement the allocated funds to achieve the stated goals or the funds would be released. The Teton Conservation District is working with local partners, including Teton County, local landowners and non-profits and other stakeholders to identify a strategy to restore the Snake River in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner.
For more information on this project contact: Carlin Girard, Water Resources Specialist, at 307-733-2110 or Carlin@tetonconservation.org.