Henry’s Fork Foundation awarded nonprofit Excellence Award

    Mick Mickelson, one of the Foundation’s founders, is third from left in the photo, and Brandon Hoffner, executive director, is fourth from left.
    Mick Mickelson, one of the Foundation’s founders, is third from left in the photo, and Brandon Hoffner, executive director, is fourth from left.

    Local efforts pay big dividends

    ASHTON — The Henry’s Fork Foundation (HFF), celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, has been recognized for its accomplishments by the Idaho Nonprofit Center (INC) in Boise.

    HFF Executive Director Brandon Hoffner and former Board Chairman Mick Mickelson, accepted the INC’s Excellence Award at the center’s 11th annual Idaho Statewide Nonprofit Conference in Boise in September.

    The Henry’s Fork Foundation was one of six nonprofit organizations chosen from a field of 100 nominees. “The awards spotlight the enormously important roles of thousands of nonprofit organizations across Idaho that make a difference every day,” according to an INC news release.

    The center represents the interests of the 4,800 charitable nonprofits in Idaho and their nearly 50,000 employees and 400,000 volunteers.

    “We appreciate the recognition of our efforts to keep the Henry’s Fork healthy and productive,” said Hoffner. “We were the only conservation organization among the recipients and we want to thank the INC for the award.”

    The HFF, based in Ashton, employs seven people and utilizes many volunteers from its 3,000 members and various organizations such as Idaho Master Naturalists and Boy Scouts of America. Summer interns from six major U.S. colleges and universities work on research and restoration projects throughout the Henry’s Fork watershed.

    The foundation’s sole purpose is to conserve, protect and restore the unique fisheries, wildlife and aesthetic qualities of the Henry’s Fork and its watershed. In the past year, the foundation has begun a multi-year project to install water quality monitoring equipment through the watershed to track data about dissolved oxygen, sediment, phosphorus and temperature.

    Four Sondes were installed this summer. A Sonde is a water quality monitoring instrument that may be stationary or may move up and down a water column, measuring elements such as water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH turbidity and depth.

    Three more will be installed over each of the next two years. The data will allow the foundation and other organizations and agencies to identify and mitigate potential risks to wild trout growth and survival for decades to come.

    Science and the environment

    The HFF has been instrumental in improving fish passage at the Buffalo River Dam near Pond’s Lodge and installing a fish ladder at the Chester Dam where video camera will allow remote monitoring of the fish. The ladders allows fish to move freely up and down the river for the first time since its construction 70 years ago.

    The foundation also supports genetic analysis and tagging that allows the tracking of individual fish to determine the contribution of the Buffalo River to the wild trout population of the Henry’s Fork.

    The foundation is also studying the habitat preferences of adult rainbow trout, specifically through Harriman State Park, that will provide information needed to ensure optimal summer habitat.

    HFF has participated in major stream restoration and rehabilitation on Sheridan and Fish creeks and on the Henry’s Lake Outlet, returning those streams to their original channels. Miles of fences have been installed and are maintained to prevent damage to river and stream banks by livestock.

    The foundation partnered with the Fremont-Madison Irrigation District 20 years ago to form the Henry’s Fork Watershed Council, which facilitates cooperation among conservation organizations, government agencies, and water users throughout the watershed.

    Educating youth and more

    Through its Trout in the Classroom and Youth on the Fly programs, the foundation has begun educating fifth-graders about the benefits of healthy rivers and the fun of fly fishing. This year, the program also reached out to the mothers of the kids.

    The foundation has helped to protect wintering trumpeter swans, clean up trash along rivers and highways, install monofilament recycling and wader washing stations and study the economic benefits of the fishing industry to the area economy.

    Henry’s Fork Foundation News