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Idaho Fish and Game

WaterLife Discovery Center



Boy with Garter snake
WaterLife Discovery Center Sign - Sandpoint, Idaho
WaterLife Discovery Center - StreamWindow
WaterLife Discovery Center - DamselFly


The WaterLife Discovery Center is a habitat education and interpretive area on the shores of the Pend Oreille River near Sandpoint, Idaho. It a self-guided educational center that combines a fish hatchery, nature trails, overlook bridges, wildlife watching areas, interpretive signs, and underwater viewing opportunities along a stream and a pond. 

It is home to the Pend Oreille Master Naturalist Chapter, who volunteer as docents and use the center for chapter meetings. The chapter assists with maintenance of the facility/grounds and provides environmental outreach events to the local community. The WaterLife Discovery Center is a focal point of the Pend Oreille Master Naturalist Chapter. The classroom may be reserved for meetings and classes. It is a unique grassroots project that has taken many years of planning and development. As the physical improvements have taken shape on the river’s waterfront, we invite you to take a closer look and learn what the area offers.

The property consists of 3.5 acres of developed interpretive exhibits and a 6.5-acre forested wetland with trails and interpretive signs. This area is home to white-tailed deer, moose, muskrat, mink, and river otters. Birds are found in abundance. Bald eagles, osprey and waterfowl grace the river while woodpeckers and songbirds prefer the wetland forest.

Watch the underwater action from the amphitheater!

WaterLife Discovery Center
Teachers Guide

This educational aid is available below in downloadable PDF format; as a full booklet and in sections for those of you who may have a slower internet connection.

  1. Entire Guide
      –  pages 1-51 [PDF, 6.5 MB]
  2. Welcome
      –  pages 1-4 [PDF, 245 KB]
  3. Conservation
      –  page 5 [PDF, 24 KB]
  4. Water Cycle
      –  pages 6-9 [PDF, 580 KB]
  1. Wonderful Wetlands
      –  pages 10-13 [PDF, 695 KB]
  2. Biodiversity
      –  pages 14-17 [PDF, 1.2 MB]
  3. Noxious Weeds
      –  pages 18-21 [PDF, 475 KB]
  4. Wetlands and Wildlife
      –  pages 22-27 [PDF, 990 KB]
  1. Succession
      –  pages 28-33 [PDF, 1.1 MB]
  2. The Nutrient Cycle
      –  pages 34-37 [PDF, 627 KB]
  3. Animal Evidence
      –  pages 38-43 [PDF, 850 KB]
  4. Glossary
      –  pages 44-51 [PDF, 440 KB]
WaterLife Discovery Center - Sandpoint, Idaho

The Area Includes:

  • A living stream
  • A riparian trail with interpretive information
  • Exhibits
  • Fish identification information
  • Endangered species displays highlighting Bull Trout
  • Identification of plant species
  • Landscaping for wildlife
For more information, please contact:

Idaho Fish and Game
2885 Kathleen Avenue
Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815
(208) 769-1414



The Sandpoint Fish Hatchery was built in 1909 by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game with partial funding from Bonner County sportsmen. The hatchery is located on the Pend Oreille River, near Sandpoint, Idaho. 

Spring water from a neighboring property is piped underground to supply water for the hatchery and fish raceways. Because the water is too cold for efficient aquaculture, the hatchery has been used primarily as a summer redistribution facility for rainbow trout.

In the mid-1990s, Fish and Game met with concerned citizens and community groups to discuss options for the historic hatchery. The community wanted a place for people, young and old, to understand the role water plays in shaping our environment. They needed a place to promote environmentally sound stewardship of our water resources. The idea for an outdoor aquatic education center began to develop.

Today, a partnership between Idaho Fish and Game, Pend Oreille Master Naturalist Chapter, the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the local community has created the WaterLife Discovery Center.


To host a self-guided educational facility providing an enjoyable outdoor recreational experience for people of all ages to better understand and appreciate the importance of water in nature.

The WaterLife Discovery Center’s unique exhibits will engage visitors, young and old, in direct discovery as they learn about Idaho’s fish, wildlife, wetlands and forests and the importance of conserving these natural resources. Inspiring responsible use and enjoyment of Pend Oreille is at the heart of the WaterLife Discovery Center’s mission.

The WaterLife Discovery Center provides a valuable resource for teachers, students, and families from northern Idaho, eastern Washington, and western Montana. The Center is becoming a place for students and families to connect with their natural world and ultimately learn about their own roles in nature. They will come to understand how their lifestyles and choices affect the world around them.



  • Avista
  • Baldy Truss
  • Bonner County Association of Realtors
  • Bonner County Sportsmen’s Association
  • Bonner Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • BrentCo Structures
  • Coldwater Creek
  • Conover Concrete
  • Cresent Electric Supply
  • Desert Stone
  • Don Jordan Design
  • Don Lunde, electrician
  • Doug Bopp
  • Eagle Marine Supply
  • Everlast Roofing
  • Extreme Electrical
  • Gas Transmission Northwest
  • Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce
  • Hansen Family Trust
  • Idaho Department of Fish and Game
  • Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Idaho Stone
  • Jeff Eich Stone
  • Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club
  • Lake Pend Oreille School District
  • Midas Management
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Native Plant Society
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • North Idaho Fly Casters
  • Panhandle Area Council
  • Panhandle Alliance for Education
  • Panhandle Lakes RC & D
  • Pend Oreille Stone
  • RH Osborn and Associates
  • Safari Club International
  • Sandpoint Civic Club
  • Sandpoint Rotary
  • Systems Roofing Supply
  • Trout Unlimited
  • Teaming With Wildlife (WCRP)
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service

Pledge Your Support Today!

Please Mail Donations To:
WaterLife Discovery Center
c/o Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation
PO Box 2254
Boise, ID 83701-2254
a 501(c)3 organization