Sediment Transport in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River near Stanley, Idaho, Water Years 2012–19

Scientific Investigations Report 2021-5111
Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation
By:  and 



Placer and dredging operations in the Yankee Fork Basin, Idaho, have left more than 5 miles of the lower Yankee Fork of the Salmon River (Yankee Fork) in a highly altered fluvial condition, resulting in poor habitat quantity and quality for native fish species. Since 2011, the Bureau of Reclamation and other stakeholders have implemented a series of restoration efforts to improve the connectivity of the river with its floodplain and to improve aquatic and terrestrial habitat in the Yankee Fork. In conjunction with these rehabilitation efforts, the U.S. Geological Survey monitored streamflow and suspended-sediment and bedload transport during water years 2012–19 at four sites in the affected lower reach of the Yankee Fork. The objectives of the monitoring were to (1) identify source areas of sediment, (2) quantify sediment transport in the lower Yankee Fork, and (3) provide a benchmark to evaluate the effects of rehabilitation efforts in the basin.

During the 8 years of sampling, the annual flow-weighted suspended-sediment concentrations (SSCs) were largest at the most downstream Clayton site, ranging from a low of 11 milligrams per liter (mg/L) in 2015 to 145 mg/L in 2017. The Clayton site also had the largest flow-weighted concentrations of suspended sand and suspended fines. At relatively low streamflow, the fine-grained fraction of the suspended sediment was the dominant component of the SSC at all sites, with an increase in the sand-size fraction as streamflow increased during snowmelt runoff. Each of the three main-stem Yankee Fork sites indicated a large amount of hysteresis in SSCs during snowmelt runoff, with concentrations on the rising limb of the hydrograph larger than concentrations on the falling limb at similar streamflow. Hysteresis was particularly evident in the fine-grained fraction of suspended sediment, indicating that sediment transport in the lower Yankee Fork is more limited by the supply of fine-grained sediment as compared to coarser-grained sediment.

Suggested Citation

Clark, G.M., and Ducar, S.D., 2021, Sediment transport in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River near Stanley, Idaho, water years 2012–19: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2021–5111, 36 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods of Data Collection and Analysis
  • Sediment Characteristics and Loads
  • Suspended-Sediment and Bedload Transport in the Yankee Fork
  • Summary
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Sediment transport in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River near Stanley, Idaho, water years 2012–19
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2021-5111
DOI 10.3133/sir20215111
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Idaho Water Science Center
Description Report: vi, 36 p.; Data Release
Country United States
State Idaho
City Stanley
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details