By Kyle Kissock

Riprap forming the levee system along the Snake River can be challenging and dangerous for wildlife to navigate.

This summer, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation (JHWF) collaborated with Teton Conservation District, Teton County, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Feuz Excavation to install a series of “wildlife ramps” along the Snake River levee.

Four ramps comprised of smaller, more compact substrate to fill voids were installed south of the Wilson Bridge area by a local excavation company. This pilot project received granting and technical support from the Teton Conservation District (TCD). The new ramps supplement three existing ramps constructed north of this area in 2015.

“Our goal is to make it easier and safer for wildlife to access the river by giving them a path though the riprap. Slender-legged, hoofed ungulates like moose and elk are vulnerable to serious injury if they slip between boulders,” Renee Seidler, Executive Director of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation said. “The new ramps provide additional safe locations for wildlife to access the river along the 24 miles of levee.”

Preliminary footage from trail cameras placed along the levee shows that elk and white-tailed deer are already making quick use of the new ramps.

“In order to locate potential sites for the ramps, we examined ungulate GPS collar data, habitat data, and observations from the JHWF Nature Mapping Database. The team whittled those down further by mapping existing game trails, securing private property access, and consulting levee engineers to arrive at the final ramp locations,” said Morgan Graham, TCD GIS & Wildlife Specialist. “JHWF volunteer and TCD Supervisor Roby Hurley was instrumental in landowner outreach, obtaining permits, and finding a beneficial use for fill material that would otherwise be transported out of the valley at significant cost.”

To view video as it becomes available, as well as video of wildlife using the ramps installed in 2015, visit the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation’s Snake River Corridor Project webpage.

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