USFS busy in Greys River with improvement projects, partnerships

STAR VALLEY, WYO — The US Forest Service’s Greys River Ranger District, in partnership with the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and Trout Unlimited, is excited to share a number of improvements in the Tri-Basin area. Road improvements in the area during 2018-2019 will contribute to improved aquatic habitat for focal fish species and other water-dependent wildlife, while also improving recreational access to the Greys River District’s high country.

Near the junction of the Smiths Fork and Greys River roads, the headwaters of three major western river basins form: the Columbia River (Greys River via the Snake), the Colorado River (LaBarge Creek via Green River) and the Great Basin (Smiths Fork via the Bear River). Anglers seeking to take part in Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s ‘Cutt-Slam’ can catch three subspecies of cutthroat trout, each native to the different river systems.

Greys River drainage. (Buck)

Last August, the Caribou-Targhee’s Forest Service road crew replaced ten culverts, primarily with funding from Trout Unlimited, and cleaned up 24-miles of overgrown routes ahead of a timber sale. The September 2018 Marten Creek fire started during a nationally-active fire season, and suppression efforts began immediately. Another 23-miles of substandard road were repaired and/or resurfaced for firefighter safety.

For 2019, a recently-approved timber sale to salvage dead and diseased trees in the East Fork and lower Shale Creek areas also includes work that improves recreational access in areas that had become almost impassable except for off-highway vehicles. An improved trailer turn-around area is now available for the Wyoming Peak trailhead, a route that gives visitors the amazing perspective from 11,378 feet up on the highest point in the Wyoming Range.

Four more culverts that currently impede fish passage are also slated to be replaced. Water quality and stream function improvements are a benefit to aquatic life and to the many recreationists who enjoy streams and the fish who rely on stream health.

With spring just around the corner, District Ranger Justin Laycock reminds visitors that both Smiths Fork and Greys River roads remain closed to wheeled vehicle traffic until May 1, which helps protect these investments in road surfaces. Other motorized routes on the valley front, however, become open as the snow leaves. You can greatly reduce your impact and help extend roadway life by not traveling on wet roads or trails, even if they are legally open. A wheel track that leaves a rut creates a channel for water which can significantly degrade a road. Equestrian use on wet trails can have similar adverse effects.

As spring arrives, enjoy areas at lower elevations or those with southern exposures, such as the Crow Creek or Stump Creek roads on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, along upper Star Valley’s west edge.

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