Big Wood River Restoration Project


On Idaho's Big Wood River, Trout Unlimited is working to restore the river to make it a place for wild trout to thrive. Working with local anglers and local landowners, TU is working with local schools and volunteers to improve the river. While the Big Wood River and nearby Silver Creek are highly regarded fishing destinations for anglers from across the United States, the river suffers from reduced streamflows, excessive water withdrawals, loss of stream habitat and barriers to fish passage.

Reduced stream flows and irrigation dams have fragmented and degraded trout habitat on the Big Wood, while disconnected and altered floodplains have impaired water quality and increased the risk of catastrophic flooding. The “big wood” for which the river was named, and which formerly provided a haven for big trout, is now hard to find in the river. The fishing on the Big Wood is still good, but there’s much work to keep the fishery strong and healthy.



Working with Idaho Department of Fish and Game,Wood River Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, TU's Hemingway chapter, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Wood River Foundation, TU is working to install fish ladders and fish-friendly diversion structures on the river. We're also enhancing streamflows through water transactions and flow augmentation.

Working with local schools, we're expanding the Adopt-a-Trout program in the valley  to educate elementary students on fish biology, aquatic entomology, riparian restoration projects, and data collection and methods.


TU has successfully negotiated protections on water transfers that would have reduced critical flows on over 12 miles of the Big Wood.


Also, during the 2012-2013 school year, TU launched Idaho’s first Adopt-a-Trout program with great success.  TU partnered with 5th and 6th grade students in Ketchum's Pioneer Montessori School  to teach them about stream ecology, trout biology stream habitat and resource stewardship.  Along with volunteers from the local TU Hemingway Chapter, the Wood River Land Trust and Idaho Department of Fish and Game, we taught students about all aspects of stream ecology. In the next three years, TU will build on this success and expand the Adopt-a-Trout program throughout the Wood River Valley.

Staff Contact

R. Chad Chorney, Southern Idaho Project Manager

Author of this Page

Chad Corney

Big Wood River
Silver Creek
Warm Springs Creek; Trail Creek; Silver Creek; Loving Creek; Little Wood River; Magic Reservoir; Ketchum
Sun Valley
Risks to Fishing 

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