Dry Creek Redband Trout Conservation Project

In 2012, Trout Unlimited received a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation—Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities Grant to support the development of a community-based fisheries conservation project.  The goal of the project is to better understand the genetic structure, distribution, and movement of Columbia River redband trout in Dry Creek, a small tributary of the Boise River located just 15 km north of Idaho’s largest urban area, Boise.  This project is a collaborative effort among Trout Unlimited, The College of Idaho, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, private landowners, Wells Fargo, the Treasure Valley Land Trust, and community volunteers.  

In the Spring of 2012, College of Idaho students partnering with Idaho Fish and Game Biologists determined that redband trout in Dry Creek were of a pure genetic strain—i.e., their genetic integrity has not been compromised by hybridization with hatchery rainbow trout.  Genetic analyses also revealed that redband trout upstream of an artificial waterfall and road culvert were genetically distinct from downstream trout—suggesting that one or both of these structures may be serving as a barrier to redband trout dispersal.  To better understand redband trout dispersal in Dry Creek, Biomark (along with College of Idaho students and project collaborators) installed two 10’ BIO Lite in-stream PIT Tag Antenna Systems, each driven by a Biomark HPR Plus Reader and powered by a 120W portable solar system.  One antenna system was installed upstream of the supposed fish passage barriers and one antenna system downstream.  Installations occurred in May 2013. 

Biomark personnel also assisted with PIT tagging efforts and will continue to offer technical and field support over the course of this multi-year project.   To date, approximately 65 redband trout have been tagged with a goal of 400 fish to be tagged throughout the watershed by the end of June 2013.  Results from the first year of this project will form the basis of a College of Idaho student’s Biology Honors Thesis to be published In June 2014.

Project Summary

Application Description:

Impact of an artificial water fall and road culvert on the movement of Columbia River redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri) in Dry Creek


Dr. Chris A. Walser, Professor of Biology, Department of Biology, The College of Idaho (cwalser@collegeofidaho.edu)


Dry Creek (near Boise, Idaho)


Adult and sub-adult Columbia River redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri)—species of special concern (American Fisheries Society and all states within the historical range); sensitive species (BLM and USDA Forest Service)