South Fork Salmon River


SWIMMING IS UNADVISABLE DUE TO HIGH WATER LEVELS AND UNSAFE RUNOFF

The South Fork Salmon River is a 86-mile (138 km) tributary of the Salmon River in Idaho and Valley Counties in central Idaho. The river drains a rugged, lightly populated wilderness watershed in the Salmon River Mountains. It is the second largest tributary of the Salmon River, after the Middle Fork.

Beginning near 7,902-foot Monumental Peak in the Boise National Forest, the river flows generally north to its confluence with the Salmon near Mackay Bar, about 135 miles (217 km) above the larger river's mouth on the Snake River. About midway along its course, it is joined by its two main tributaries – the East Fork South Fork Salmon River from the east, and the Secesh River from the west. The river receives runoff from a total of 1,309 square miles (3,390 km2) of land, ranging in elevation from 9,322 feet at North Loon Mountain to 2,146 feet at the mouth of the river.

The South Fork is an important habitat for Chinook salmon, Westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout and steelhead trout and has been designated a critical habitat for salmon. Although aquatic habitat in the South Fork drainage is considered good as a whole, some tributaries have been damaged by logging, mining and road-building activities, which has increased the sediment load in the river. About 340 miles (550 km) of backcountry roads in the drainage have been decommissioned and are undergoing restoration by the U.S. Forest Service.

Plant communities in the South Fork drainage range from grassland and shrubland, Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and Grand fir forests at lower elevations, to subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, whitebark pine and aspen at mid to high elevations. Among large mammals, the watershed is home to Rocky Mountain elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, black bear, cougar, mountain goat, bighorn sheep and gray wolf. The area has over 200 confirmed species of resident and migratory birds.

WATER QUALITY
  • Met water quality standards less than 60% of the time
  • Historical Status
  • This status is based on the latest sample, taken on . Snake River Waterkeeper updates the status of this beach as soon as test results become available. These results were posted to Swim Guide on at
For water quality icon legend, click:   
CURRENT WEATHER
-2°C
Cloudy with a few clear breaks
MONITORING FREQUENCY

South Fork Salmon River is sampled from June 7th to August 30th

SOURCE INFORMATION

There is currently very limited water quality monitoring of Idaho's inland swim sites. The federal Beach Act does not cover freshwater or riverine beaches, and states in the Basin do not monitor Snake River swimming beaches or recreational access sites.

As part of its Water Quality Program, Snake River Waterkeeper monitors water quality at more than 100 sites on the Snake River and its tributaries for temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity/conductivity/total dissolved solids, ammonia, and nitrates. Data are collected at sample sites June-October and assigned safety ratings based on comparison to EPA's Recreational Water Quality Criteria for Human Health:

pH: 5 – 9 µg/L
Salinity/Conductivity/Total Dissolved Solids: 500 mg/L
Nitrates: 10 mg/L

A site is marked Green when single sample results meet all Human Health Criteria.
A site is marked Red when the results are equal to or above Human Health Criteria.
A site is marked Grey when there are no current results or no available information.
Sites found to exceed EPA's Aquatic Health Criteria are noted in site descriptions.

While criteria measured are useful indicators of contamination, there are many other potential sources of pollution that are not reflected in our Swim Guide, including E.coli and other bacteria, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and pesticides that harm aquatic life.

Download the free app for smartphone and learn about Swim Guide 3.0 at www.theswimguide.org. To learn more about our efforts to protect and restore the Snake River's water quality, visit www.snakeriverwaterkeeper.org.

WATER QUALITY GRAPH

South Fork Salmon River


WATER QUALITY
  • Met water quality standards less than 60% of the time
  • Historical Status
  • This status is based on the latest sample, taken on . Snake River Waterkeeper updates the status of this beach as soon as test results become available. These results were posted to Swim Guide on at
For water quality icon legend, click:   
CURRENT WEATHER
-2°C
Cloudy with a few clear breaks

SWIMMING IS UNADVISABLE DUE TO HIGH WATER LEVELS AND UNSAFE RUNOFF

The South Fork Salmon River is a 86-mile (138 km) tributary of the Salmon River in Idaho and Valley Counties in central Idaho. The river drains a rugged, lightly populated wilderness watershed in the Salmon River Mountains. It is the second largest tributary of the Salmon River, after the Middle Fork.

Beginning near 7,902-foot Monumental Peak in the Boise National Forest, the river flows generally north to its confluence with the Salmon near Mackay Bar, about 135 miles (217 km) above the larger river's mouth on the Snake River. About midway along its course, it is joined by its two main tributaries – the East Fork South Fork Salmon River from the east, and the Secesh River from the west. The river receives runoff from a total of 1,309 square miles (3,390 km2) of land, ranging in elevation from 9,322 feet at North Loon Mountain to 2,146 feet at the mouth of the river.

The South Fork is an important habitat for Chinook salmon, Westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout and steelhead trout and has been designated a critical habitat for salmon. Although aquatic habitat in the South Fork drainage is considered good as a whole, some tributaries have been damaged by logging, mining and road-building activities, which has increased the sediment load in the river. About 340 miles (550 km) of backcountry roads in the drainage have been decommissioned and are undergoing restoration by the U.S. Forest Service.

Plant communities in the South Fork drainage range from grassland and shrubland, Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and Grand fir forests at lower elevations, to subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, whitebark pine and aspen at mid to high elevations. Among large mammals, the watershed is home to Rocky Mountain elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, black bear, cougar, mountain goat, bighorn sheep and gray wolf. The area has over 200 confirmed species of resident and migratory birds.

MONITORING FREQUENCY

South Fork Salmon River is sampled from June 7th to August 30th

SOURCE INFORMATION

There is currently very limited water quality monitoring of Idaho's inland swim sites. The federal Beach Act does not cover freshwater or riverine beaches, and states in the Basin do not monitor Snake River swimming beaches or recreational access sites.

As part of its Water Quality Program, Snake River Waterkeeper monitors water quality at more than 100 sites on the Snake River and its tributaries for temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity/conductivity/total dissolved solids, ammonia, and nitrates. Data are collected at sample sites June-October and assigned safety ratings based on comparison to EPA's Recreational Water Quality Criteria for Human Health:

pH: 5 – 9 µg/L
Salinity/Conductivity/Total Dissolved Solids: 500 mg/L
Nitrates: 10 mg/L

A site is marked Green when single sample results meet all Human Health Criteria.
A site is marked Red when the results are equal to or above Human Health Criteria.
A site is marked Grey when there are no current results or no available information.
Sites found to exceed EPA's Aquatic Health Criteria are noted in site descriptions.

While criteria measured are useful indicators of contamination, there are many other potential sources of pollution that are not reflected in our Swim Guide, including E.coli and other bacteria, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and pesticides that harm aquatic life.

Download the free app for smartphone and learn about Swim Guide 3.0 at www.theswimguide.org. To learn more about our efforts to protect and restore the Snake River's water quality, visit www.snakeriverwaterkeeper.org.

WATER QUALITY GRAPH



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