The Big Wood River is one of the most central features of the Wood River Valley. The river and its floodplain contain habitat for fish and wildlife species, provide recreational opportunities, and support agricultural and residential uses. Unfortunately, the river has been unnaturally straightened and has lost approximately 1.7 miles in length since 1943. In 2006, Wood River Land Trust began working with the City of Ketchum, the Bureau of Land Management, and the community on a restoration and recreation plan for an altered section of the Big Wood River on public lands north of Ketchum The river was most recently altered during a highway realignment project in the early 1990s, and several sediment traps were created to capture migrating sediment and bed load. One sediment trap has become a multi-use recreational amenity for the community and is commonly referred to as “Hulen Meadows Pond.”
Sediment has accumulated in the inflow channel to Hulen Meadows Pond. This prevents the delivery of fresh, oxygenated water into the pond and forces migrating sediment and bed load downstream, intensifying flooding events in developed areas. Flooding often necessitates emergency stream bank hardening, which can lead to river straightening and shortening. Several drop structures were originally created to help control water velocity and allow the river to more naturally meander. These have not been maintained and are failing.