Long-standing partnership pays off for fish
For the last 14-plus years, Trout Unlimited and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have established partnerships and implemented projects across the state to benefit cold-water fisheries and their habitat. Trout Unlimited depends on Game and Fish biologists and aquatic habitat specialists to provide critical technical and financial assistance to complete restoration projects that benefit native and wild trout for generations.
The success and momentum of coldwater restoration in Wyoming depends on strong relationships with landowners, volunteers, municipalities, industry, federal partners and state entities like Game and Fish and the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust. 
Since 2007 Trout Unlimited and Game and Fish have worked together on projects throughout the Greybull River drainage to reconnect and protect habitat for Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Alongside the Greybull River Irrigation District there have been significant conservation gains for Yellowstone cutthroat.
The trio worked together to remove the last barrier for Yellowstone cutthroat trout on the Greybull River and its major tributaries last fall. The Wood River is the largest tributary of the Greybull River in Wyoming and boasts one of the last strongholds of Yellowstone cutthroat in the state. 
The Wood River Diversion, located 14 miles upstream of the Greybull River/Wood River confluence west of Meeteetse, was built in 1972 and is operated by the Greybull Valley Irrigation District to fill Lower Sunshine Reservoir and provide irrigation water to nearby lands. The concrete structure spans the entire channel, is nearly 8 feet high and was a complete barrier for Yellowstone cutthroat and other fish since its original construction.
Last fall Trout Unlimited contractors built a technical fish ladder to provide upstream passage to more than 100 miles of habitat for the first time in more than 50 years. This structure was the only barrier for Yellowstone cutthroat on the Wood River from its confluence with the Greybull River to the headwaters in the Absaroka Mountains.
"It takes a significant investment to complete projects like the Wood River ladder,” said Nick Scribner, Game and Fish fish passage coordinator. “By partnering with Trout Unlimited we're able to access other funding opportunities not available to government agencies that allows us to match and maximize public funds that will benefit the fishery and use by our public for generations to come." 
Game and Fish, Greybull Valley Irrigation District and Trout Unlimited first partnered on the Upper Sunshine Diversion Project to install a fish ladder  reconnecting more than 150 miles of habitat. That project led to the Wood River Diversion project completed last fall. In all, nearly 300 miles of Yellowstone cutthroat habitat have been connected in the Greybull River drainage.
20211209_WoodRiverLadder-(3).JPGThe Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Trout Unlimited have worked on more than 100 projects through the years. (Photo courtesy of Trout Unlimited)
Game and Fish and Trout Unlimited have worked on more than 100 projects through the years and have established great relationships focused on identifying and developing pragmatic and collaborative partnerships across the state with landowners and water users.
“I am grateful for my relationships with the Game and Fish staff and draw motivation and optimism through their relentless — and usually understated — commitment and effort to conserve cold water fisheries,” said Cory Toye, Wyoming Trout Unlimited water and habitat program director. “It’s safe to say the hard work of Game and Fish and all of our partners has quietly reconnected thousands of miles of habitat for coldwater fisheries throughout the state. Populations of wild and native trout once trapped below instream barriers now have full access to watersheds for life cycle migratory requirements and refugia on public land.
20211027_WoodRiver-Ladder-Construction-(1).JPGStrong relationships between a lot of people and organizations are key in completing work to ensure healthy fisheries throughout Wyoming. (Photo courtesy of Trout Unlimited)

“I encourage each of you, especially anglers, to learn more about the Game and Fish’s aquatic habitat program. The hard work of this program creates incredible opportunities for the sustainability of Wyoming’s coldwater fisheries. If you see one of these hard-working biologists, buy them a cup or coffee or a beer but I will warn you, unless you are waist deep in a river moving rocks and root wads around, they may be hard to find.”
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Trout Unlimited

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