Over the past century, fish populations have declined in Idaho’s Kootenai River due to dams, pollution, and overfishing. In 2009, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho initiated a large-scale effort to restore habitat conditions so the river could support populations of native fish, including the culturally important Kootenai River white sturgeon. Since 2011, GBI has worked with the Tribe to bring aquatic life back to the Kootenai River through a series of restoration projects. This includes the Deep Creek Restoration Project, which involved the construction of a new stream channel to restore fish habitat and establish more natural streambank and floodplain conditions.
A tributary of the Kootenai River, Deep Creek flows through a mountainous and thickly vegetated river valley. Therefore, GBI faced the challenge of controlling water amid seasonal rainfall and heavy runoff from the nearby mountains. Additionally, the presence of many different soil types made the dewatering process especially difficult. To overcome these obstacles and maintain maximum efficiency, GBI managed the amount of work taken on at a given time within each area. When it came time to access and excavate the channel, GBI built access roads and used LGP track trucks in areas where standard off-road trucks would be inefficient. In addition to excavating the 1,800-linear-foot stream channel, GBI constructed riffles, roughened the floodplain, and strategically placed brush bank structures to provide shade and stream stability, among other things.
As a result of GBI’s jobsite efficiency, the owner saved nearly $100,000, which was applied to work items that were unaccounted for in the initial design. Most importantly, this project gave GBI’s Washington Region another opportunity to help the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho continue its efforts to protect the Kootenai River and its inhabitants.