An alliance for all things wild in east Idaho - Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

An alliance for all things wild in east Idaho

Moose seen along the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, near Island Park, Idaho (Forest Service - Northern Region, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Y2Y’s 2019-20 partner grants program supports efforts of ‘champions for wildlife’ in Upper Henry’s Fork Watershed

The Upper Henry’s Fork Watershed in east Idaho is a critical part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and larger Yellowstone-to-Yukon region. Just west of Yellowstone National Park, this part of Idaho provides important habitat for a myriad of species to live in and move through. Among those animals, grizzly bears, pronghorn, elk, moose and several fish species depend on people’s help to maintain the healthy ecosystem that this watershed helps form.

For the people who live in and around this special place, including in Island Park, wildlife and wild landscapes are the cornerstone of their lifestyle. That’s why in 2019, a small (but mighty) group of dedicated individuals came together to officially form the Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance (HFWA) – a grassroots, all-volunteer organization governed by local residents and homeowners who care deeply for the region’s wildlife.

Now, they are on a mission to keep wildlife populations healthy in the Upper Henry’s Fork Watershed, especially as the region sees more human activity through recreation, tourism and population growth.

As the only citizens organization devoted solely to protecting healthy wildlife populations in the Upper Henry’s Fork Watershed in Island Park, Idaho, the people of Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance are champions for wildlife.

“We began three years ago as a loosely organized group of volunteers and activists supporting Y2Y’s work to keep wildlife safe on roads; their vision has always inspired us,” says Jean Bjerke, HFWA president. “In summer 2019, Y2Y was instrumental in helping form Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance and gave us critical support from a summer intern who is now our program coordinator.”

HFWA’s volunteers have worked steadily to make a difference for wildlife. Whether advocating for wildlife crossings on busy highways in Idaho, or engaging with government on policies that benefit nature, their team shows true dedication to helping nature and people thrive.

East Idaho organizations volunteer in pronghorn study

One example of HFWA’s work is through their involvement in a recent study on pronghorn antelope migration.

In the winter of 2019, nearly 100 pronghorn antelope were killed after being hit in two separate train collisions near Hamer in Jefferson County, Idaho. Something needed to be done to prevent a tragedy like this from happening in the future.

Pronghorn antelope in Idaho (Credit: Jean Bjerke)

To help better understand pronghorn seasonal migrations, Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance was one of three organizations to participate in this study with Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) in July 2020. Ultimately, this research would help inform how to best get the animals to and from their winter range, and keep them off the train tracks and roads.

In a joint effort with the Idaho Chapter of Safari Club International and Friends of Camas, HFWA provided matching funding for the project, which became part of the current statewide effort by IDFG to collar pronghorn to study their seasonal movements.

Two volunteers with Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance assisting with preparing nets that helped with capturing and collaring pronghorn antelope for research on their winter migration routes. Credit: Josh Rydalch

How has Y2Y supported Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance?

The Yellowstone to Yukon mission progresses because of collaboration. That’s why we’re proud to continue with our partner grants program — one that has been running since 1998.

Through our partner grants program in 2019 and 2020, Y2Y supported HFWA’s communications and outreach to local communities. This year, we helped enable HFWA to publish a series of weekly wildlife articles in the local paper throughout the summer; create a brochure highlighting community activities; and reach more local supporters directly.

Y2Y’s partner grant program is one of the ways we support organizations and groups whose work underpins our mission — to connect and protect habitat from Yellowstone to Yukon so people and nature can thrive. These on-the-ground projects complement our efforts and mobilize work that we wouldn’t be able to do on our own.

In 2020, we funded 12 projects including this one, totaling $54,500. We are pleased to provide this financial support for the conservation community, because we know that it is only by working together that we will succeed.

Proud partners: Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance

As the only citizens organization devoted solely to protecting healthy wildlife populations in the Upper Henry’s Fork Watershed in Island Park, Idaho, the people of Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance are champions for wildlife. HFWA’s mission is to educate and advocate to protect and conserve the native wildlife and its enjoyment by the public in the Upper Henry’s Fork Watershed.

Some members of Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance at the Idaho Wildlife Federation’s annual ‘Camo at the Capital’ event in Boise, Idaho. Credit: Charlie Lansche