The South Fork Snake River corridor from Swan Valley to Menan Buttes is one of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s (GYE) most outstanding fish and wildlife resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ranked the cottonwood gallery forest along this reach of the river the number one wildlife resource in Idaho. The complex cottonwood forest is home to the greatest bird diversity in all of the GYE. The South Fork corridor is the most productive bald eagle nesting habitat in the GYE, and supports 25 other species of nesting birds of prey. The South Fork is widely regarded as the finest large native cutthroat trout river in the country.
Extensive cottonwood riparian forests and the surrounding canyons and cliffs along the South Fork provide vital habitat for a diverse population of neo-tropical migrant songbirds as well as many other species, including raptors. Within the South Fork corridor there are 14 bald eagle breeding territories, three peregrine falcon eyries, mountain lion dens, as well as abundant habitat for black bears and large game such as elk, moose, and mule deer. With many of these species listed as sensitive, threatened or declining, habitat protection is critical. Native populations of Yellowstone cutthroat trout are abundant.
In addition this reach of the South Fork, is an important trumpeter swan wintering area. The South Fork and Rainey Creek near Swan Valley have supported up to 300 wintering trumpeters. The South Fork is of critical importance to swans, geese and many other waterfowl during migration, nesting, and wintering.
Threatening these superlative resources is an exploding second home market. Development is occurring on scenic ridge tops of the canyon, in the cottonwood galleries and the wetlands. The Land Trust is working with willing landowner, agency and NGO partners in this project area to protect these lands along the river. Partners include the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and The Conservation Fund.