Habitat Restoration Program News
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2016 Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Contractors working for the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho will be building two river habitat restoration projects near Bonners Ferry from July through November, 2016. The two projects are located right next to town, so during part of the construction season there will be some construction noise, impacts to traffic, and other visual effects.

Video Documentary
View a trailer for an upcoming documentary on the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho’s Habitat Restoration Program

The Straight Reach project is located just downstream of the Highway 95 bridge. Work will include construction of two rock structures that will extend into the river from the river bank. One will be on the north bank and one on the south bank. These rock structures will redirect river flows to create better habitat for fish. This project also includes placing rock on the river bottom using a barge. The rock will provide surfaces for sturgeon eggs to stick, and spaces between the rocks where sturgeon larvae can hide. Burbot (ling) will also use the rocks for spawning. The rock will be placed deep enough under the water surface that it will not pose a navigation hazard.

The Bonners Ferry Islands Phase 2 project is located upstream from Bonners Ferry and the Highway 95 bridge on the south side of the Kootenai River. The Bonners Ferry Islands Phase 1 work was completed last summer from the north side of the Kootenai River and included construction of two islands and excavation of two pools. This year’s work will include excavation of one more pool where an existing gravel bar and eroding island currently exists. The 2016 work from the south bank will also include construction of two large pool-forming structures, wood structures and construction of floodplains. The pools provide places for sturgeon and other fish to rest and feed. The chain of multiple pools also creates a deeper channel that may help sturgeon migrate upstream to areas where better spawning habitat is available. The pool-forming structures help to redirect flows away from the river bank and also create eddies and other complex habitat used by fish.

Here’s a summary of what you can expect during the construction season.

Straight Reach Project – South Bank Construction Work
The Tribe’s contractors will set up a staging area off of Riverside Street on the south bank of the river. A temporary rock stockpile area and barge loading and landing site will also be built at the Search and Rescue Boat Launch on Riverside Street. The barge was moved to the Deep Creek boat ramp in July in sections and assembled using a crane. The barge will be moored upstream from the Search and Rescue Boat Ramp so that the ramp will not be blocked.

From August through early September (depending on flow conditions), the barge will be making multiple trips per day from the loading site to place rock for the substrate clusters on specific river bottom locations. Rock will be loaded onto barge via a 100-foot-long conveyor belt. In September the barge will be removed and taken apart. Then the barge loading and landing site will be removed, and the staging areas will be cleaned up and restored to their original conditions.

There will be increased truck traffic and occasional short traffic delays on Riverside Street for brief periods in late August and September. Traffic control measures and signage will be in place around the construction staging and access areas.

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Figure 1: Boundary County Search and Rescue Ramp construction access and staging area.

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Figure 2. Barge placing rock substrate in the Kootenai River (image from the Tribe’s 2014 substrate enhancement
project).


Straight Reach Project – North Bank Construction
Work In August, a rock structure will be constructed on the north bank of the river. This site will be accessed from North River Drive and is west of Birch Street. Construction vehicles will be directed along a route from US Highway 95 to Chinook, then to Comanche, to Birch, to North River Drive, and then back again. There will be increased traffic on this route in late August and September during construction. During this period there will also be occasional short traffic delays on North River Drive in order to deliver materials needed for construction of the rock spur.

Bonners Ferry Islands Project – South Bank Construction Work and Pool Excavation
In July, a staging area was set up on the south bank of the river on private property upstream from Bonners Ferry. The staging and construction sites are being accessed via Cow Creek Road and through the privately owned Waterfront Lane. There will be increased truck traffic on these roads from July through November, with the majority of traffic in August through October.

In August a temporary coffer dam will be constructed from the south bank in order to allow access to the gravel bar and island in the river. This island will be cleared of vegetation, which will be salvaged for later use in the project. The new pool will be excavated and the materials from the pool will be used to build out the banks and construct floodplain surfaces on the south bank of the Kootenai River. The temporary coffer dam will be removed in late October.

In addition, from mid-August through October two large spurs (pool-forming structures) will be constructed from timber piles and rock. As part of the construction of these spurs, timber piles will be driven into the riverbed from August through October. Because of the very short permitted in-water construction season, pile driving will take place five or six days a week during working hours. Additional work will include reconstruction of a section of river bank between the spurs.

Erosion control measures will be implemented during construction and monitored according to permit conditions.

Work in October and November will include bank plantings, seeding and restoration clean-up.

Figure3
Figure 3: Pool excavation on the Kootenai River (image from Kootenai Tribe’s 2015 Bonners Ferry Islands project).


Construction Updates and Additional Information
Bi-weekly construction updates will be posted at multiple locations around town. Updates will also be posted on the Tribe’s website at:
www.restoringthekootenai.org.

The Bonners Ferry Islands and Straight Reach projects are part of the Kootenai Tribe’s multi-year Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program. The program, including the 2016 projects are funded by the Bonneville Power Administration through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program.

The Kootenai Tribe appreciates your support and understanding during this time!


Contact:
Susan Ireland, Fish and Wildlife Department Director
Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
Phone: 208 267-3620
Fax: 208 267-1131


Figure4
Figure 4. Straight Reach project overview.


Figure5
Figure 5. Bonners Ferry Islands project overview.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2016 Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Why do the plants on the newly constructed islands in front of the Kootenai River Inn look like they are already dead? The answer is that the new plantings aren’t dead at all, but they are hiding behind bundles of dead branches and brush. What you’re seeing is new way of protecting the plantings on the islands from being eaten by our Bonners Ferry area wildlife.

Last summer the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho constructed the first half of a two-year project to help endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon, burbot and other native fish. The Bonners Ferry Islands project includes excavation of pools, construction of structures to protect the river bank and provide fish habitat, bank restoration, construction of two islands and revegetation of the islands and river banks.

The 2015 vegetation work included planting seeds, native trees, shrubs, and live willow cuttings on the islands and north river bank across from the Kootenai River Inn. Once these plants take hold they will help to stabilize the islands and river banks. The plants also play an important role in helping sturgeon, burbot and other fish by improving the food web in the river. When insects and debris from the plants drop into the river they help provide nutrients and food for fish.

So, back to those brown dead plants on the islands. The Kootenai Tribe is trying out a new way to protect the freshly planted vegetation from being eaten by deer, beaver, geese and other wildlife. Last summer the Tribe’s contractors wrapped the new plantings in bundles of dead branches and brush to protect them from browsing while the plants get big enough to survive on their own (Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1
Figure 1. Brush bundles prior to installation. These are not intended to grow; their purpose is to shield live plants from deer and other wildlife.


Figure 2
Figure 2. Figure 2. An example of brush bundles installed near planted shrubs, which are indicated by pink spray paint on the ground. Brush bundles in this photo include wood pieces that retained their needles through fall 2015.

These brush bundles were designed to create conditions similar to what you would find on a densely vegetated island or riparian area (Figure 3). Because the constructed islands were completely bare when it was time to put plants on them, the bundles were needed to give the new plantings some protection. The brown, dead plants we are seeing on the islands and river bank are these outer bundles of protective brush.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Dense brush on a natural island in the Kootenai River.

Many of the branches used to make these protective bundles came from conifer trees that had green needles when they were put in place. While those needles stayed green through most of the winter, they have now turned brown. The conifer needles will drop to the ground soon helping to build new soil on the islands.

Living trees and shrubs are growing within the protected areas created by the bare limbs and brown branches of the protective bundles (Figure 4). These plants will continue to grow and mature, and should fill in the spaces between the brush bundles and over time grow taller than the brush. Eventually the brush will decompose leaving just the living plants.

Figure 4
Figure 4. Conifer branches with needles turning brown in May 2016.

Now that the Kootenai River stage is high, plants on the islands are partly under water. Fortunately, these plants are native riparian species and they are adapted to being under water or partially submerged for several days or even weeks during the growing season. Some of the willow species, such as sandbar willow, are planted at lower elevations on the islands and these willows commonly survive up to six weeks under water during spring and early summer. Other shrubs such as alder and dogwood were planted slightly higher, but these plants can also survive days or weeks under water. Plants like chokecherry and rose are less tolerant of being submerged for long periods and these were concentrated on the highest parts of the islands. The current high water is giving last year's planting a much-needed watering, and once the water recedes, green leaves and new growth will be visible as the new vegetation starts to establish on the islands.

The Kootenai Tribe’s contractors will be out monitoring the vegetation this summer to see how well this approach is working and make adjustments if needed.

The Tribe will begin construction of the second part of the Bonners Ferry Islands project later this summer. Stay tuned for more news about this project.

The Bonners Ferry Islands project is part of a larger Kootenai Tribe of Idaho program, the Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program, which is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration.

Additional information and progress updates are available on the Kootenai Tribe’s website:
www.restoringthekootenai.org.

Contact:
Susan Ireland, Fish and Wildlife Department Director
Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
Phone: 208 267-3620
Fax: 208 267-1131


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2015 Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Tribes to Begin Construction on the Bonners Ferry Islands Project
In August 2015, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho will begin construction of the Bonners Ferry Islands project, a Kootenai River habitat restoration project to help endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon, burbot and other native fish.

The 2015 project will include excavation of two deep in-river pools, construction of two vegetated islands on existing gravel bars in the Kootenai River, and grading and other restoration treatments on the north riverbank. The project site is located within the town of Bonners Ferry, in front of Kootenai River Inn, and upstream from the Highway 95 Bridge.

In-river construction takes place between August and early November when river flows are low. Endangered Species Act regulations also require that in-river work be limited to this period in order to minimize disturbance to listed fish. Because of this short construction season, project construction will be split over two years. Work on and near the north bank of the Kootenai River will occur between August and November in 2015, and work on the south bank will take place in 2016.

During the 2015 construction season there will be increased construction traffic and dust near the construction staging area next to Riverside Park and in and around the construction zone. There will also be noise associated with construction activities Mondays through Saturdays between the hours of 7:30 AM and 6 PM, from August into November.

Channel excavation and bank grading activities will also result in increased short-term river turbidity near the construction site. The Tribe’s contractors will be implementing best management practices throughout the project to minimize turbidity, noise, dust, site disturbances, and other construction impacts.

For public safety, access to the southern portion of the Riverside Park near the construction staging area may be limited at times during construction.

During construction weekly activity updates will be posted at the City Hall, County Commissioners office, library, and Tribe’s project web site:
restoringthekootenai.org.

Project purpose
The project will add depth to the shallow braided reach of the river without increasing river flows or flood risk in the Bonners Ferry Islands area. Pool excavation will help to deepen portions of the main river channel in the braided reach. The pools will provide places for Kootenai sturgeon and burbot to stage for spawning. The pools also will provide places for fish to rest and feed as they move upstream. Materials excavated from the pools will be used to build the islands.

The islands will be built on top of existing gravel bars at an elevation that can support vegetation. Native vegetation will be jump started with seeds and larger plants in containers. The constructed islands will also create sheltered areas where native vegetation can self-seed.

Downstream portions of the islands will be graded to help create floodplain habitat. Once established, the new riparian vegetation and floodplain habitat will contribute to the food web in the river. The vegetated islands will also provide habitat for birds.

Bank restoration work will include grading parts of the riverbank, construction of woody structures designed to protect the bank and establish floodplain habitat, and revegetation with native plants. The bank restoration and bank structures will help create habitat that supports self-seeding of native vegetation. Woody structures along the bank also will create in-river habitat with places for various native fish to hide, rest and feed.

The Bonneville Power Administration is funding the project through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program. The project is part of the multi-year Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program.

Additional information about the project and the multi-year Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program that it is part of is available on the Kootenai Tribe’s website: www.restoringthekootenai.org.

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Time-lapse Video

2012 Construction of the Upper Meander Project
This short video is a time lapse of the Upper Meander restoration project. The project site has had some of the most extensive erosion and land loss found in the Braided Reaches of the river. Roughly 35 acres of land were lost since 1934 with nearly 40,000 tons of sediment loaded into the river over the last two years. The Upper Meander project included construction of flow redirection structures that will help protect the banks while also helping to create a series of deep pools to support migration and resting for Kootenai sturgeon and other native fish. Many biologists believe that sturgeon are not currently able to migrate from substandard habitat in the Meander Reaches to better habitat in the Braided Reaches due to current conditions in the river. The deep pools created through this project will be replicated in other projects implemented under the Program, effectively creating a "ladder of pools" to support sturgeon migration and resting through the Straight and Braided Reaches to suitable upstream habitat.

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Kootenai River habitat restoration projects underway this summer and fall to restore habitat for Kootenai sturgeon and other native fish.

August 28, 2012
Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Construction equipment is being mobilized, logs and root wads and other construction materials are being stockpiled, access roads are being built, and a fish rescue crew is on call. What’s all this activity about? It is all preparation for construction of two Kootenai River habitat restoration projects that will be built from September through November this year. Both projects are part of the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho’s Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program.

Sue Ireland, Director of the Tribe’s Fish and Wildlife Program explained,
krem2newslogo2
“The Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program is an ecosystem-based habitat restoration program designed to restore habitat for Kootenai River white sturgeon and other native fish such as burbot and kokanee. The program includes approximately 10 unique projects that will be built over about 5 or 6 years. The first two projects, which were located in the braided reach upstream of Bonners Ferry, were completed in 2011.”

Ireland said that a goal of the habitat restoration program is to provide the best possible habitat conditions for Kootenai sturgeon and other native fish populations while working with the community infrastructure and agricultural land uses that are currently in place. “We specifically wanted to design an ecosystem restoration program that addresses the habitat needs of sturgeon and other important fish populations without calling for additional flows or doing things that are not consistent with local community values and land uses,” said Ireland. The projects are designed to function within a range of ordinary Kootenai River flows but can also withstand abnormally high flows like those experienced this last year.

The projects being constructed this year are the North Side Channels project and Upper Meander project. Both project sites are located upstream of Bonners Ferry in the braided reach of the Kootenai River. The North Side Channels project is designed to restore side channel habitat used by a variety of fish. Project actions will include restoration of bank cover vegetation; fencing to help manage grazing use; construction of pools, riffles, and alcoves in the river; and development of enhanced wetland areas. The Upper Meander project will include stabilization of a severely eroding riverbank, livestock fencing, and riparian restoration as well as construction of instream structures that will help deflect flows away from the bank. These instream structures will also help to create a series of pools that will provide more diverse habitats for a variety of fish in this river reach.

The Tribe has applied for and received all necessary permits and approvals to begin this year’s construction work. During the construction window, residents in the area may hear some construction traffic and may occasionally see increased sediment in the river. In addition, the Upper Meander project will include pile driving to construct the instream structures which will generate some temporary noise. The majority of instream construction work on both projects will happen in September and October with planting and bank restoration activities occurring in November.

The 2011 and 2012 projects, and the other projects that make up the Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program, have been developed in coordination with regional biologists, river engineers, resource management agencies, and technical experts from a wide range of disciplines. Local landowners have also played a critical role by allowing restoration actions to occur on their private land and providing input on the project design concepts. Jennifer Porter, Tribal Chair, said “We’re so grateful for the support and cooperation of the landowners who were involved in both last year’s and this year’s projects. They are playing a huge role in helping to recover the Kootenai River ecosystem that will benefit all of us.”

The Tribe has hired a general contractor, Goodfellow Brothers, to construct the 2012 projects. The general contractor is working with local subcontractors whenever possible to provide materials and assist in different aspects of the project. Bonneville Power Administration provided funding for the planning, design, and construction of the project through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program.

To learn more about the Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program and the 2011 and 2012 projects you can go to the Tribe’s project web site http://restoringthekootenai.org.

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Other Recent News
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Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
P.O. Box 1269
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
Phone: 208-267-3519

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