Restoring Henrys Lake Shoreline

Story and photos by Bruce Hallman, Public Affairs Specialist

In May, the BLM Upper Snake Field Office hosted work efforts to restore the western shore of Henrys Lake in southeastern Idaho. The BLM, Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), and Henrys Lake Foundation (HLF) worked together to design and construct nearly a mile of new wildlife-friendly fence and plant willows along the shoreline. The collaborative efforts will benefit wildlife, residents and anglers.

This project has been in the works for some time as the BLM, IDFG, and HLF bounced around ideas for ways to improve Henrys Lake shoreline and the lake water quality. With so much to choose from and limited resources in play, all parties agreed that improving the livestock fence on BLM-managed lands would be a great project for 2021. The new wildlife-friendly fence will remove grazing use from the shoreline, bolster vegetation, reduce erosion, and improve water quality. In addition to the newly constructed portions, workers tore out some old, ineffective fencing.

Heavy fence posts getting moved into position.

“Sometimes coordinating volunteers can be like herding cats, but what we’ve accomplished here has been truly inspiring,” said the project lead, BLM Fisheries Biologist Ryan Beatty. “What the workers did in just a few days will benefit the lake and surrounding habitat for years to come.”

To accelerate vegetation recovery in the same area, volunteers also planted around 500 willow stakes along the eroding shoreline. BLM staff harvested the stakes nearby from robust native willows appropriate for the setting. The trees that root and establish will benefit the shoreline by adding roughness and resistance to wave action erosion. Trout Unlimited, IDFG, HLF, and the Henrys Fork Wildlife Alliance provided many volunteer hours of appreciated labor. The Henrys Lake Foundation was integral to completion of the project, providing $10,000 in project materials, volunteers, and lunches to crews.

Pounding in willow stakes along the eroded shoreline.

The BLM manages one in every 10 acres of land in the United States, and approximately 30 percent of the Nation’s minerals.