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Clark Fork Delta restoration work continues this summer

Starting in mid-June, youth crews from the Idaho Conservation Corp will be camping at the Clark Fork Drift Yard while they assist Fish and Game in seeding, planting, weeding and monitoring efforts in the delta. Three crews are expected to stay and work at the delta during June 10 to 20, July 22 to 26, and August 19 to 23.

Extensive bank erosion has occurred to islands and shorelines in the Clark Fork River Delta, at the confluence of the Clark Fork River and Lake Pend Oreille in North Idaho. The losses to soil and vegetation are due to dams and associated hydropower operations. The quantity and quality of fish and wildlife habitat have also been severely affected. Reed canarygrass, an invasive plant that thrives in disturbed ecosystems, now dominates in delta habitat areas, impairing many of the wetland functions.

The youth crews will manually remove weeds and plant native seed in their stead. They will also plant native woody and wetland plants that will provide food and habitat for wildlife for years to come.

Five years of restoration

In June 2012, the State of Idaho and Bonneville Power Administration agreed to allow wildlife mitigation funds to be used for habitat restoration purposes on the Clark Fork River Delta. The overall purpose of the Clark Fork River Delta Enhancement Project is to protect and improve riparian and wetland habitats in the delta, and enhance important bird, fish and wildlife habitat.

The project is being implemented in phases to reduce temporary disturbance to public access and wildlife resources. The first construction effort began in 2014 and involved protecting over 20,000 linear feet of eroding shorelines with 50,000 tons of riprap rock. In addition, 51,000 willows and 330 trees with rootwads were embedded in the rock protection. Between April and June of the same year, over 100,000 plants were planted by volunteers, school groups and Idaho Department of Fish and Game staff.

Phase II of restoration begins in August

On August 30, 2018, the State of Idaho and Bonneville Power Administration signed the Northern Idaho Memorandum of Agreement, in which the parties agreed that the restoration of the Clark Fork River delta is part of a larger effort to address impacts on wildlife due to operation of Albeni Falls Dam. Under the agreement, over $12 million will be allocated over the next 30 years to restore 1,378 acres of wildlife habitat in the Clark Fork delta.

Starting in August of 2019, Fish and Game will initiate the construction for Phase II of the project involving the protection of shorelines and wildlife habitat on White and Derr Islands. The construction work is expected to occur throughout the winter and be completed by April 2020. Watch for more information later this summer regarding temporary closures and details of the Phase II construction effort.

Please contact Mitigation Staff Biologist Katherine Cousins with questions at kathy.cousins@idfg.idaho.gov.