November 19th Briefing Presentations on the Draft South Selkirk Caribou Management Plan

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October 24, 2018 Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Draft South Selkirk Caribou Management Plan Released

The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and the Selkirk Caribou International Technical Work Group (SCITWG) have completed a draft South Selkirk Caribou Management Plan [click here to download the plan]. In August 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) contracted with the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho to lead the SCITWG in developing a draft management plan for South Selkirk Caribou.

After review of this draft plan, a final South Selkirk Caribou Management Plan will be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be incorporated in a Recovery Plan for the listed entity, at a future date. At that time, the USFWS will seek public comment on the entire Recovery Plan as part of the USFWS Recovery Planning process. This Management Plan is focused on the South Selkirk Subpopulation and will continue to be implemented.

The Kootenai Tribe and SCITWG are soliciting constructive comments focused on improving the draft South Selkirk Caribou Management Plan. Comments will be accepted through November 30, 2018. In particular, the SCITWG would like to know:
  • Are there significant oversights, omissions, or inconsistencies to the science and background information presented in Part 1 (Science / Background Summary)? If so, please provide specific appropriate citations or supporting information. Please briefly explain why this information should be included, or otherwise addressed, or corrected within the plan.

  • Are there specific additions or changes to Part 2 (Management Plan) that are supported by the science and background information presented in Part 1? If so, please provide specific recommendations and summarize the rationale for including those.

  • Are there near-term or longer-term actions that should be considered for inclusion in Part 3 (Implementation Plan)? If so, please briefly describe those actions and provide a brief rationale for including them.

Please submit written responses by November 30, 2018 to Norm Merz (Kootenai Tribe) at Your use of the attached comment form [click here to download the form] will facilitate the SCITWG review.

Recommendations for changes to Part 1 and Part 2 will be incorporated into a final South Selkirk Caribou Management Plan, as appropriate, and to the best of the SCITWG’s ability, prior to submitting the plan to the USFWS. Recommendations for additions to Part 3 will be reviewed by the SCITWG for inclusion in an updated implementation plan at the next SCITWG implementation meeting, planned for spring 2019.


Norm Merz, Wildlife Biologist
Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
PO Box 1269
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
November 19th Briefing on the Draft South Selkirk Caribou Management Plan Announced

You are invited to attend a meeting on November 19, 2018 from 2 PM to 4 PM Pacific at the Kootenai Tribal Headquarters, in Bonners Ferry, Idaho [see map below] to hear a briefing from the Selkirk Caribou International Technical Work Group (SCITWG) on the draft South Selkirk Caribou Management Plan and current status of the South Selkirk Caribou Subpopulation. This meeting will include an opportunity for you to learn what is in the plan, ask questions, and learn about how this management plan will be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, SCITWG, and others.

If you are unable to attend this meeting in person, you can watch the presentations online and/or listen to the meeting. We will only be taking questions from those present in the meeting room, comments or questions from those not physically present should be submitted via the written comment form. Please note that due to the acoustics of the meeting room, the presenters may be difficult to hear.

Options for remote participation (view and/or listen to the presentations):
  • From PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
  • Or iPhone one-tap: +16699006833,,108160461# or +16468769923,,108160461#
  • Or by telephone: 1-669-900-6833 or 1-646-876-9923, Meeting ID: 108 160 461

The Tribal Headquarters are located at 100 Circle Drive, Bonners Ferry. See the map and directions below.

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Going north on Highway 95/2, proceed through Bonners Ferry and over the bridge crossing the Kootenai River. Immediately after crossing bridge, turn left onto Chinook Street (If coming from the South, then turn right onto Chinook Street before the Kootenai River bridge). Follow Chinook Street and then turn left on Kaniksu Street (which runs in front of the hospital). Keep on Kaniksu Street for approximately a half mile as it drops down into the Kootenai River floodplain. Turn left at the Mission Road sign. Heading west across the floodplain, you’ll be looking at a treed knoll in the middle of the valley. As you drive up the knoll, you’ll pass the first left at the top, keep going straight until you meet a stop sign. Now turn to your left and proceed for 100 yards and you’ll come upon a large Blue building (with a triangle/pyramid shaped roof on east side) with a paved parking lot.
Overview of Draft Plan to be Presented at the KVRI Regular Meeting

The SCITWG will also present an abbreviated overview of the draft South Selkirk Caribou Management Plan to the Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative (KVRI) at their regular meeting. The KVRI meeting begins at 7 PM at the Boundary County Extension Office (

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

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:

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

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:

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:


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.


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,
“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

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Click below to view a program flyer.

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Other Recent News
Click below to view a recent article or video about the program.
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Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
P.O. Box 1269
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
Phone: 208-267-3519

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