In 2019, GBI enjoyed its ninth season of river restoration work in Bonners Ferry, Idaho with the successful completion of the Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Project (KRHRP) Ball Creek Tributary Enhancement project. Ball Creek is a tributary that is located along the lower reach of the Kootenai River downstream of Bonners Ferry. The focus of the project was to improve the foraging, spawning, and rearing habitat for focal aquatic species through riparian and aquatic habitat enhancement.
Crews diverted the existing stream around the work area to create a new complex channel that included new riffle sections, large wood structures, meandering reaches, brush bank vegetation structures, pools, and floodplain and riparian plantings. The work was completed under a very tight schedule coupled with diverse weather conditions.
Although the project was not a one of a kind, it was the first that allowed for the complete diversion of a stream so work could take place in an inactive channel. Crews faced a number of challenges, including a high water table and many different soil conditions. The landowners had many requests that changed the project design in several locations. Although production was slowed, the project was completed a week early. The landowners, along with the Kootenai Tribe and engineers, were extremely happy with the final product.
The project was initiated to provide for a productive migration corridor and spawning locations for kokanee, as well as critical habitat for bull trout, both of which are important food sources for the Kootenai River white sturgeon. This was the tenth project to bring the sturgeon back to a healthy population with the hopes of someday having them removed from the endangered species list and having open harvest legalized (as was recently the case with the Kootenai River burbot).
For the duration of the project, the GBI team worked very closely with the owner, engineers, and landowners to stay on schedule, deliver a quality project, and complete the work in an efficient manner. Field adjustments were necessary on several occasions to keep the stakeholders happy and the project moving forward; many of the adjustments were done efficiently without accruing additional costs.
GBI is proud to be Kootenai Tribe’s contractor of choice.