New Action Launched to Protect Idaho Bull Trout From Misguided “Restoration”

30th of Aug 2021

June 2021 photo of bull trout stream in the Upper Squaw Creek watershed

Advocates for the West notified the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that they are in violation of the Endangered Species Act by approving the “Sage Hen Integrated Restoration Project” in Idaho’s West Mountains without protecting threatened bull trout.

The Sage Hen Project authorizes constructing over 80 miles of roads and commercially harvesting timber on 18,000 acres over the next twenty years on public lands in Gem and Valley Counties, Idaho. Home to bull trout, rare plants, and sensitive wildlife species, the 68,000-acre project area includes parts of the Snowbank Inventoried Roadless Area and includes the entire Upper Squaw Creek watershed. 

Due to population declines and ongoing threats, in 1999 the bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) was listed as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act. Bull trout populations in Upper Squaw Creek are currently considered to be at “high risk.” Two of the four local bull trout populations in this area were recently extirpated. And by 2040, climate change is projected to hit Upper Squaw Creek bull trout particularly hard. 

“The Sage Hen Project puts bull trout in Upper Squaw Creek at extreme risk,” said Advocates for the West Staff Attorney, Bryan Hurlbutt. “The agencies cut the approval process short, without meaningful public involvement and without the careful planning needed to develop a true restoration project.”

Our notice letter was sent on behalf of the Idaho Conservation League.