Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Salmon River (South Fork) Subbasin

Subbasin at a Glance

Hydrologic Unit Code 17060208
Size 1,313 square miles (840,053 acres)
Water Bodies with EPA-Approved TMDLs (Category 4a)

Allison Creek, Buckhorn Creek and tributaries, Cabin Creek, Dollar and North Fork Dollar Creeks, Elk Creek and tributaries, Grouse Creek, Johnson Creek, Lick Creek, Profile Creek and tributaries, Rice Creek (entire watershed), Rock Creek, Secesh River and tributaries, South Fork Salmon River and tributaries above East Fork South Fork, Upper Johnson Creek and tributaries, Warm Lake Creek and tributaries, West Fork Buckhorn Creek, West Fork Elk Creek, Willow Basket Creek

Beneficial Uses Affected Cold water aquatic life, salmonid spawning, primary contact recreation, drinking water supply
Major Land Uses Forestry, grazing, recreation, mining
Date Approved by EPA Subbasin assessment only; not subject to EPA approval
Date Temperature TMDL Addendum Approved by EPA

October 9, 2012
EPA Approval Letter

Subbasin Characteristics

The South Fork Salmon River subbasin is located in central Idaho; the northeast portion of the subbasin lies within the boundaries of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

2002 Subbasin Assessment

An earlier TMDL for the main stem South Fork Salmon River was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1991 (and is available as an appendix in the 2002 document). That TMDL set surrogate sediment targets for percent depth fines and cobble embeddedness for the river.

Ambient numeric water quality monitoring data and biological data show that the 1998 §303(d)-listed water bodies currently meet the Idaho water quality standards for sediment and metals. Based on these results, DEQ is removing all water bodies in the subbasin listed for sediment and metals from the §303(d) list with the exception of the main stem South Fork Salmon River. The main stem South Fork Salmon River is being left on the §303(d) list because the data suggest that the watershed has not attained the 1991 target for percent depth fines.

A review of the available stream temperature data, potential management impacts to stream temperature, and riparian conditions indicate that the Idaho water quality standards for stream temperature are not being violated. However, it was found that the federal Bull Trout temperature standards are exceeded. Therefore, the TMDL recommends that 13 water bodies be added to the next §303(d) list for temperature.

2002 Summary of Assessment Outcomes

South Fork Salmon River
Leave on §303(d) list for sediment; add to next §303(d) list for temperature
East Fork South Fork Salmon River
Remove from §303(d) list for sediment and metals
Johnson Creek
Remove from §303(d) list for sediment; add to next §303(d) list for temperature
Rice Creek
Remove from §303(d) list for sediment; add to next §303(d) list for temperature
Dollar Creek
Remove from §303(d) list for sediment
Trail Creek
Remove from §303(d) list for sediment; add to next §303(d) list for temperature
Trout Creek
Remove from §303(d) list for sediment; add to next §303(d) list for temperature
Tyndall Creek
Remove from §303(d) list for sediment; add to next §303(d) list for temperature
Sand Creek
Add to next §303(d) list for temperature
Warm Lake Creek
Add to next §303(d) list for temperature
Profile Creek
Add to next §303(d) list for temperature
Buckhorn Creek
Add to next §303(d) list for temperature
Lick Creek
Add to next §303(d) list for temperature
Grouse Creek
Add to next §303(d) list for temperature
Elk Creek
Add to next §303(d) list for temperature

2003 Addendum

In May 2002, the South Fork Salmon River subbasin assessment was revised and updated by DEQ. The 2002 revision serves as the base document for this addendum. The purpose of this addendum is to evaluate progress toward meeting the 1991 TMDL using the most recent data available as of June 2003.

DEQ data show that the depth fines and cobble embeddedness targets have not yet been achieved. However, no additional reduction controls beyond those already in place or being planned by the Forest Service are recommended by DEQ. The sediment management strategies currently in place or planned for the future are consistent with the best available management practices for meeting the TMDL.

2012 Addendum

This document addresses 14 named streams comprising 28 assessment units in the South Fork Salmon River subbasin that were recommended for listing for temperature in the 1991 South Fork Salmon River TMDL. This document addresses the temperature TMDLs for these streams. This document also revises the sediment targets from the 1991 TMDL.

Effective shade targets were established for 28 assessment units based on the concept of maximum shading under potential natural vegetation resulting in natural background temperature levels. TMDLs were established for 27 assessment units. Shade targets were derived from effective shade curves developed for similar vegetation types in Idaho. Existing shade was determined from aerial photo interpretation field verified with Solar Pathfinder data.

With the exception of Trail Creek and perhaps Profile Creek, all other streams in the analysis lack shade resulting in excess solar load. Many streams were further impacted by recent wildfire. Tributary streams in the Warm Lake area (Warm Lake Creek, Rice Creek, and Trout Creek) have been most affected, resulting in high excess solar loads. Elk Creek in the lower South Fork Salmon River area and Grouse Creek in the Secesh River watershed also appeared to have been affected. Some tributary streams were not as affected and have moderate levels of shade loss and excess solar loading. The lower canyon sections of the major rivers, the South Fork Salmon and Johnson Creek, are in relatively good condition with respect to shade primarily because they are wide with low shade targets to begin with and are in a more sparsely vegetated dry forest zone. Meadow areas were similarly less impacted because of their lower shade targets.

In addition to developing temperature TMDLs, this TMDL addendum also revised sediment targets used in the South Fork Salmon River TMDL to more closely reflect natural conditions in the watershed. These targets are based on the Payette and Boise National Forest Watershed Condition Indicators for the watershed.

2012 Addendum: Streams and Pollutants for Which TMDLs Were Developed

Grouse Creek and Secesh River tributaries
Temperature
Johnson, Sand, and Trout Creek
Temperature
Lick Creek
Temperature
Profile Creek
Temperature
Rice Creek
Temperature
South Fork Salmon River/Tyndall Creek
Temperature
Warm Lake Creek
Temperature

Subbasin Documents


Staff Contacts

Water Quality Manager
Lance Holloway
DEQ Boise Regional Office
1445 N. Orchard St.
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0550
lance.holloway@deq.idaho.gov

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