In 2009, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho launched a large-scale effort to restore habitat conditions in Idaho’s Kootenai River, which had a significant decline of fish populations due to dams, pollution, and overfishing. 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 Elk Mountain Farms and Ball Creek Restoration Project, which was initiated to develop new habitat for the endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon. These giant fish, which can live for more than 100 years, are an important part of the river ecosystem and are of immeasurable cultural value to the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho.
This project involved the restoration of native riparian vegetation and the eradication of invasive reed canary grass along the river’s floodplain. The project had five separate jobsites, which required a great deal of strategic planning. Additionally, GBI had to complete the work before high river flows began in the fall. GBI’s scope of work included the installation of 5,500 linear feet of floating turbidity curtain and the excavation and placement of 36,852 cubic yards of reed canary grass. GBI also completed 667,895 square feet of floodplain grading and 14.8 acres of floodplain roughness, along with the installation of substrate patches, alcove wood structures, and willow trenches and containerized plants to promote riparian growth.
This project gave GBI’s Washington Region another opportunity to help the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho continue its efforts to restore native vegetation and aquatic habitat conditions so the river can support populations of native fish, including the Kootenai River white sturgeon.