Picabo, Idaho – The Nature Conservancy and the Purdy family have signed an agreement to restore Kilpatrick Pond on Silver Creek, an impounded area that has trapped sediments for decades.
The agreement focuses on restoring the stream to a more natural path, creating wetlands and lowering water temperatures.
The Kilpatrick Pond project will be the largest restoration effort ever undertaken on Silver Creek. The project is also the most significant action that can be undertaken to reduce water temperatures at Silver Creek, recognized by ecologists as the main long-term threat to this world-class trout stream.
Because of the size and complexity of the project, in addition to extensive planning through the next several months, the University of Idaho will be building a model of the pond. Interested people will be able to see in real time how the newly designed reach of Silver Creek looks as water flows through it.
Kilpatrick Pond is the impounded portion of Silver Creek that includes parts of Silver Creek Preserve and the Purdys’ Double R Ranch. Due to an irrigation diversion dam on the Purdys’ property, sediments have been trapped in this pond. These sediments have filled in the historic stream channel, creating a mostly wide and shallow pond where water heats up quickly in the summer sun. Such conditions are not good for the long-term health of the stream or the fishery.
The Silver Creek enhancement plan, a comprehensive review of the watershed commissioned by The Nature Conservancy, found Silver Creek to be in excellent shape, but identified rising water temperatures as a key threat to the stream’s future. The plan identified Kilpatrick Pond as one of the main contributors to rising water temperature at Silver Creek.
The planned project will stabilize the sediments that have built up over time, so that they will not be redistributed downstream. These sediments will be used to create wetlands or islands. The stream channel will be restored to a more natural flow and path.
The current irrigation diversion dam will be altered to allow for more natural water movement. It will also allow for fish passage so trout can move freely up and downstream.
“This restoration effort will lower water temperatures and create great wildlife habitat, ensuring that Silver Creek remains one of the West’s finest spring creeks for generations to come,” says Dayna Gross, Silver Creek Preserve manager.
The Nature Conservancy has worked at Silver Creek Preserve for 35 years, purchasing the preserve, working with local landowners on nearly 10,000 acres of conservation easements and actively working on restoration and research projects.
The Purdy family members are legendary landowners at Silver Creek, well known for their relationships with the Hemingway family, their commitment to land and water stewardship and their conservation legacy. The family has donated conservation easements to the Conservancy and continues to play an active role in stream conservation.
“A collaborative effort between the Purdys, The Nature Conservancy and the University of Idaho should provide the best effort possible to stabilize thousands of tons of legacy silt from moving into lower Silver Creek and degrading the water down stream,” says Nick Purdy. “This project should enhance and improve the creek for the future.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.