A cobalt mining company and conservation group are teaming up in Idaho for the third year in a row to fund projects that restore fish habitat near the Upper Salmon River.
Since 2021, the Australia-based company Jervois has made $150,000 available each year for the Upper Salmon Conservation Action Program. The company partners with the Idaho Conservation League to choose projects, which is accepting proposals.
Josh Johnson, senior conservation associate with the Idaho Conservation League, said the region in the central part of the state is crucial for salmon and other species that travel nearly a thousand miles from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in tributaries of the Salmon River.
“We need to make sure that they have the habitat they need to survive and to thrive up in the Upper Salmon basin,” said Johnson, “given all the other challenges they face just even getting there.”
The second year of the program sent funds to the expansion of riparian vegetation along the East Fork of the Salmon River, acquisition of a property along Salmon River tributary Panther Creek, and removal of culverts in the region to improve fish habitat.
The program is accepting proposals through March 15.
Johnson noted that the program is additional conservation work for Jervois and not related to direct mitigation for its mining operations.
He said this is the third year of funds for projects, and mining has yet to begin – but the company is committed to the work until mining is done in the region.
“It is valuable for the mining company to feel invested, not just monetarily but also in the process itself,” said Johnson. “That helps engender more of a connection to the landscape that they’re working in.”
Johnson added that the program has had a multiplier effect.
Federal funding is available for conserving fish habitat in the region but often requires a non-federal match, which the Upper Salmon Conservation Action Program provides.