Trout Unlimited, Bridger-Teton National Forest to Secure Access, Fish Habitat in Gros Ventre and Crystal Creek Area

JACKSON, Wyo (October 18, 2023) — Campers, hikers, and anglers heading to the upper Gros Ventre might need to be patient while infrastructure work occurs near the popular Crystal Creek campground within the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF), but the work will improve their future recreation access and habitat for trout when it is complete. Trout Unlimited and the U.S. Forest Service are installing bioengineered structures to stabilize the Gros Ventre Road and the streambanks of Crystal Creek following recent flood and wind events.  


“This project will protect access to fishing and public lands for our community while improving fish habitat and showcasing river and fish-friendly techniques for streambank stabilization,” said Leslie Steen, Wyoming State Director for Trout Unlimited.  


“This project is all about working with the river on its terms while simultaneously protecting critical infrastructure and public access in the Gros Ventre.  With an influx of available large trees created by the microburst storm, it seemed only right that we work with what nature provided to protect access and an amazing place,” said Todd Stiles, USFS Jackson District Ranger. “Trout Unlimited, Teton Conservation District, Snake River Fund, and Friends of Bridger-Teton have stepped up to help make this project a reality as our partners.  I am very grateful to them as it wouldn’t have been possible without them.”  


Flooding during spring run-off in 2017 and subsequent seasons has eroded both the Gros Ventre and Crystal Creek banks in the project area, which has taken portions of roads, infrastructure, and campsites within the campground. A microburst wind event in June 2022 further compromised the campground by blowing over many trees and exposing full root wads. Many other trees were broken, while others remain leaning precariously with compromised root systems.  


Following the microburst wind event, the Bridger-Teton National Forest reached out to TU and partners for emergency assistance to fund and manage a project that would protect the Gros Ventre Road in the long-term while addressing concerns about bank stability and access. The project will ensure continued access for the public to the upper Gros Ventre above Crystal Creek by addressing the areas where road instability and integrity are compromised.  Additionally, the project provides bank stabilization through bioengineered structures appropriate with the river’s Wild and Scenic designation. The structures also provide instream wood and undercut banks for improved fish habitat in the area.  


Project partners include the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Friends of the Bridger-Teton, Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited, Snake River Fund, and Teton Conservation District. The project is also funded by a $40 million national partnership between Trout Unlimited and the U.S. Forest Service funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 and local Forest Service recreation funds. In addition, TU and BTNF volunteers have helped to harvest local willow branches to be used for replanting and stabilization in the project construction. 


Work will commence on October 19th and is expected to last 3 weeks. During this time, road access may be interrupted or delayed, with most of the delays expected to occur October 25-27, with delays from 30 minutes up to a half day expected. The Gros Ventre and Crystal Creek Bioengineered Stabilization Project is a project of TU’s Snake River Headwaters Initiative, an ambitious initiative to restore and protect the headwaters of the Snake River and its fishery, together with a diverse group of community, landowner, and agency partners.