Island Park Project Named as a 2023 Water to Watch!

Friends of Reservoirs is happy to announce that Island Park Reservoir has been named a 2023 Water to Watch!

Island Park has been the target of an ongoing effort to protect coldwater habitat while supporting practical water management, a difficult challenge in a Western irrigation reservoir. We applaud the Henry's Fork Foundation and many partners for their excellent and innovative work!

Island Park Reservoir is a beautiful, 8,000-acre mountain reservoir in the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that contains once-productive fisheries for kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, and mountain whitefish. These economically valuable fisheries have deteriorated due to high annual drawdowns in recent decades. Island Park Reservoir’s annual drawdowns are more extreme in drought years when water supply from winter snowpack is proportionally less than summer demand for irrigation downstream.

The RFHP funded crucial scientific projects which discovered that high drawdown increases Island Park Reservoir’s water temperatures and decreases dissolved oxygen concentrations. Hot surface water temperatures and a deep oxygen “dead zone” create a deadly habitat squeeze for Island Park Reservoir’s salmon and trout. The loss of habitat due to drawdown reduces fish populations in Island Park Reservoir.

Reducing the annual drawdown of Island Park Reservoir is a difficult proposition. Water from Island Park Reservoir helps irrigate one of the most valuable agricultural regions in the United States, the vast Snake River Plain, and farmers hold all rights to the water stored in the reservoir. Thankfully, with funding from the RFHP and with additional funding and partnership with the US Bureau of Reclamation, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Fremont-Madison Irrigation District, and private landowners, the non-profit Henry’s Fork Foundation has implemented a huge collaborative water-saving program with two primary components: “Farms and Fish” and “Precision Water Management”. These programs work at scales from individual irrigators up to the entire 250,000-acre irrigation district to implement precision management projects based on increasing efficiency at the farm field level and managing water carefully at the district level, thereby reducing irrigation demand and overall Island Park Reservoir drawdown while simultaneously meeting on-farm goals. The Farms and Fish program has helped reduce annual Island Park Reservoir drawdown by nearly 20%, improving fish abundance by over 150% compared to years without water conservation.

Finally, detailed scientific information funded by the RFHP will support additional, durable measures to conserve fisheries resources for decades into the future. For example, scientific study on Island Park Reservoir discovered the conservation potential of complex infrastructure projects such as hypolimnetic oxygenation. Oxygenating the cold, deep “dead zone” in Island Park Reservoir could insulate fish habitat from drawdown and improve downstream water quality in the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. Island Park Reservoir’s fisheries are in good hands because of RFHP funding.

Read the full information page here:

RFHP Grants

Farms and Fish: Utilizing Water-Saving Technology for Island Park Reservoir and the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, Idaho

Farms and Fish: Utilizing Water-Saving Technology at Island Park Reservoir

Stop the Squeeze: utilizing hypolimnetic oxygenation for Island Park Reservoir and the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, Idaho

Full Press Release

National Fish Habitat Partnership Announces 2023 Waters to Watch

(Washington, D.C.) - The National Fish Habitat Partnership ( is excited to announce its “Waters to Watch” list for 2023. This annual list represents a collection of strategic conservation efforts implemented on rivers, streams, estuaries, and lakes to protect, restore, or enhance fish habitat.

These voluntary, locally-driven projects represent some of the top conservation activities completed or in progress by 20 regionally-based Fish Habitat Partnerships throughout the country. These projects are carried out under the goals and objectives of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. These conservation projects conserve freshwater, estuarine, and marine habitats essential to many fish and wildlife species.

Over 140 Fish Habitat Partnership Waters to Watch projects have been featured since 2007 and demonstrate science-based, on-the-ground conservation efforts protecting or improving fish habitat across the United States. In 2023, the National Fish Habitat Partnership is featuring two retrospective Waters to Watch project, reflecting on the continued progress of a conservation project listed previously as a Water to Watch.

“These projects, which focus on the protection, restoration, and enhancement of fish habitats across the country, are a great example of collaborative conservation implemented through the National Fish Habitat Partnership,” said Robert Boyles, Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “Our partnerships are a truly unique example of achieving conservation results through wide ranging partnerships. These efforts to improve fishing and habitat for fish and for the enjoyment of all Americans, is very much a team effort.”

Annually, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides both funding and technical assistance to the 20 Fish Habitat Partnerships across the country to aid in implementing aquatic conservation projects nationwide. The work of the National Fish Habitat Partnership is also supported broadly by many federal, state, tribes, local agencies and conservation organizations.

Learn more about the National Fish Habitat Partnership, partner projects happening across the U.S., and how to get involved on our Partnerships page; by visiting the following website:

The 2023 Waters to Watch list and associated Fish Habitat Partnerships:

  • Annette Island, Metlakatla Indian Community, AK - Southeast Alaska FHP
  • Finn Rock Run, OR - Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative
  • Galena River Watershed, IL - Fishers and Farmers Partnership
  • Island Park Reservoir, ID - Reservoir FHP
  • Lower Heeia Watershed Restoration, HI - Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership
  • Matheson Wetland, UT - Desert Fish Habitat Partnership
  • Mid Klamath Tributary, CA - California Fish Passage Forum
  • Native Fish Passage in the San Joaquin River, CA - California Fish Passage Forum
  • Spread Creek, WY - Western Native Trout Initiative
  • Big Lake, AK – Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership

For more information and descriptions of the “Waters to Watch” list for 2023 as well as a project map point, visit:

Visit the “Waters to Watch” page on our website to view our archived projects: Through project tracking, National Fish Habitat Partnership projects have Our conservation projects have reconnected more than 6,000 miles of rivers and streams while conserving over 45,000 acres of river, lake, riparian, upland, estuary, and wetland habitat.

About the National Fish Habitat Partnership:

Since 2006, the National Fish Habitat Partnership has supported over 1,300 projects benefiting fish habitat in all 50 states. The National Fish Habitat Partnership works to conserve fish habitat nationwide, leveraging federal, state, tribal, and private funding resources to achieve the greatest impact on fish populations through priority conservation projects of 20 regionally-based Fish Habitat Partnerships.

Learn more: