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200200800 - Reconnect Kootenai River with the historic floodplain

Sponsor: Kootenai Tribe of Idaho

Budgets: FY07: $241,500 | FY08: $512,000 | FY09: $551,500

Short description: Investigate and implement actions to reconnect the Kootenai River with its historic floodplain. Project objectives are based on ecosystem restoration principles consistent with the subbasin plan, Biological opinion, and White Sturgeon recovery plan.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $241,000 | FY08: $460,800 | FY09: $496,350

Comment: ISRP Fundable in part. Fund completion of planning and design per ISRP comments. Out year funds dependent on favorable review by ISRP and Council.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable in part


This is a project to restore ecosystem function to a floodplain reach of a stream tributary to the Kootenai River. The natural floodplain has been obliterated by straight-line ditching of the stream, diking of the Kootenai River, and conversion of floodplain vegetation to agricultural land. There is an initial goal of designing improvements to the stream channel, riparian zone, and floodplain to increase productivity for fish and wildlife. Past ISRP comments were that this is a high priority effort, in principle at least, but there were lots of weaknesses and evidence of areas of concern. Progress to date includes a conclusion that what they propose is feasible, but they have not made a convincing case that the cost-effectiveness component of their hypothesis is feasible or reasonable. The arrangements for one creek fell through, and they won't be using the same location for proposed work. But the planning experience will be used at another site. Use of the new site is assumed for the proposal, although much arranging still needs to be done. The ISRP finds the proposal Fundable in Part consistent with the sponsor’s response for a phased approach to complete the design phase, conduct thorough cost-benefit analyses, ISRP review of the design, and implementation contingent on a sound and cost-effective design. The sponsors plan to use published EPA guidelines for ecosystem restoration, including the recommended cost-benefit approach. They clarified that the water they would need is available, just that it is now ditched and drained (they would make "landscape adjustments" and a new stream channel to hold back the creek water). The land drainage has higher phosphorus content than the mainstem river; thus, productivity of the restored floodplain should be greater. The response outlined the various staff and their roles quite convincingly. The budget allocation is still slim, but logically depends on how they do their planning and how the plan develops (the response provided an example). The ISRP question about compromising the stream channel was clarified by noting that the original stream channel has not existed since before 1928 and a wholly new one will be developed. This active restoration plus active planting of key vegetation would be followed by much passive restoration as "fill-in." The response makes a logical argument that wholly passive restoration wouldn't work in this system that has been so radically altered for agriculture. The response outlined M&E tasks that are both good and demonstrate collaboration with projects 200201100 and 199404900, including a joint database. The sponsors plan close cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and others for local community “buy-in.”

Response loop edit

See the sponsor's revised proposal from the response loop. You'll be taken to CBFWA's proposal system in Section 10 where most sponsors uploaded revised narratives or other responses to the ISRP comments.

State/province recommendation: Fundable

Review group: Mtn Col

Recommended budgets: FY07: $241,000 | FY08: $460,800 | FY09: $496,350