With the combined efforts of a community, the Clark Fork Delta River Project, part of the Council’s fish and wildlife program, has helped reduce erosion in the Clark Fork River delta in northern Idaho caused by water level fluctuations from the operation of the Albeni Falls Dam. The extensive bank erosion in the delta has meant the loss of soil, native riparian, and wetland vegetation, as well as the quantity and quality of fish and wildlife habitat.
To restore priority wildlife wetland and riparian habitats within the delta, the project has focused on protecting areas from further erosion using environmentally compatible stabilization methods and restoring areas of the wetlands to enhance habitat complexity, diversity, and reduce the occurrence of non-native invasive weeds.
Beginning in 2015, over 1,200 pounds of a native seed mix was hydroseeded across all fill areas; a total of 100,549 plants were planted; approximately 20,813 shrubs and trees were planted by volunteers, school groups and Idaho Department of Fish and Game staff; and approximately 79,736 plugs were planted by volunteers, IDFG staff, and two crews from the Northwest Youth Corp.
There were a few areas within the restoration area that required further “touch-ups” in 2016; still, most plantings survived and flourished. Generally, in a project of this size and scope, maintenance is often necessary during the first few years after installation until the vegetation becomes established and the banks are stabilized.
The IDFG worked with project engineers, fluvial geomorphologists, and hydrologists to develop the project design. Planting and weed control plans were developed with other state agency, tribe, and community input. The project’s engineering design and approach was to build the protection to appear more natural, with vegetation growing in the river rock.
Newly created wetland area showing the placement of woody debris and river rock to protect plantings from waves.
The project is being implemented in phases to reduce the impact to fish and wildlife, as well as to reduce interruptions to public access.