An innovative solution to improve transportation for a special needs population in Idaho last year resulted in a special award for engineering excellence.
The population? Migrating Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
The solution? Special culverts that promote safe fish passage under Idaho Highway 87 north of Henry’s Lake.
The American Council of Engineering Companies presented its 2005 ACEC of Idaho Engineering Excellence Award to GeoEngineers, Inc. for ITD’s project in District 6 (Fremont County). Nester Fernandez accepted the oak plaque on behalf of the district staff.
ITD’s project received second place in the water resources category.
A number of state and federal agencies collaborated on the environmental enhancement project to improve survival rates for fish passing under Idaho 87. Erosion of the streambeds on Targhee and Howard creeks below the highway had blocked fish movement between Henry’s Lake and spawning streams.
Targhee Creek accounts for about 70 percent of the naturally spawned cutthroat trout in the lake, according to research from Sen. Mike Crapo’s office. The senator participated in an August 2005 news conference that officially launched the construction project.
Two bridges were built to replace existing culverts and improve fish passage. Targhee Creek was bridged, and a large, natural-bottom arch culvert bridge was added to Howard Creek.
Completed last fall, the project involved the assistance of Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), the Henry’s Lake Foundation, ITD, the U.S. Forest Service, the Natural Resource and Conservation Service, High Country Resource Conservation and Development and GeoEngineers, Inc.
Boy Scout members, IDFG staff and volunteers helped move fish to their spawning streams while the improvements were made.