A large restoration effort is planned for the Clark Fork River delta, located on Lake Pend Oreille in Northern Idaho.
The restoration work is tentatively scheduled to start this summer with road improvements and the staging of equipment and raw materials. The bulk of the construction work is to occur during the winter months (November 2014 - March 2015) when the lake is drawn down to its lowest elevation.
The restoration work is needed due to the operation of dams in the watershed. Wave action and water level fluctuations of Lake Pend Oreille due to the operation of the Albeni Falls Dam and the Cabinet Gorge dam have caused extensive bank erosion of islands and shorelines in the Clark Fork River delta. This erosion has resulted in losses of soil and native riparian and wetland vegetation. These combined impacts have reduced the quantity and quality of fish and wildlife habitat.
The altered hydrology in the Clark Fork River and delta has changed the wetland and aquatic vegetation cover such that many of the delta's wetland functions are severely impaired. The restoration project is designed to help restore delta bank, increase upland habitat, protect native riparian and wetland vegetation, and improve the quantity and quality of fish and wildlife habitat.
The project will focus upon two main objectives. One is protecting existing areas within the delta from further erosion using environmentally compatible stabilization methods. The second is restoring and enhancing the edge and interior areas.
The work done will add habitat complexity with large woody debris; promote diverse native riparian vegetation growth such as black cottonwood, dogwood and willow; and reduce invasive reed canarygrass.
The work is planned in stages to reduce impacts to fish and wildlife, and to reduce interruptions to public access.
The initial work sites will be accessed from the Idaho Highway 200 (a designated National Scenic Byway). That work is scheduled to start in 2014, with construction ending in 2015. Planting efforts will soon follow.
The next stage will include the areas around White Island and Derr Island. Access to these areas would most likely be from the Johnson Creek Access Area. This work is still being developed and implementation is not yet scheduled.
The monitoring effort is being developed with input from the community, and is planned so volunteers will have opportunities to participate in the work. The public is encouraged to participate. Volunteer opportunities are posted on a new website, clarkforkdelta.org.
The project is a partnership of numerous public and private entities. Partners are listed on the website.
Questions should be directed to IDFG Biologist Kathy Cousins at (208) 769-1414.