Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Idaho
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Idaho Project

Effects of habitat restoration activities on fish assemblages and populations in side channels of the Kootenai River

February 2012 - October 2014


Participating Agencies

  • Kootenai Tribe of Idaho

The Kootenai River is one of Idaho’s most unique and important resources, and supports a diversity of native species. Native fishes of high cultural and ecological important include burbot , Kootenai River white sturgeon, kokanee, redband trout, westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout, and mountain whitefish. All of these species use the Idaho portion of the Kootenai River for all, or a significant portion of their life history. Like many other large rivers in North America, the Kootenai River has been degraded due to changes in land use (e.g., logging, mining) and water development (i.e., Libby Dam). These disturbances have had deleterious effects on ecosystem function of the Kootenai River. The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho has been active in the past and is moving forward with ambitious plans to restore habitat and ecosystem function in the Kootenai River and its floodplain. On-going and planned restoration efforts provide a unique opportunity to evaluate the effects of habitat restoration on fish assemblages and populations. In particular, restoration activities on side channels are likely to elicit large positive responses due to their importance to fishes and other organisms in the system. The purpose of this project is to provide information on the effects of habitat restoration activities on fish assemblage structure and function in side channels of the Kootenai River. A major benefit of this project is that it will provide an understanding of the distribution and abundance of fishes, by species and life history stage, in side channel habitats of the Kootenai River. This information is critical for evaluating the effect of management actions (e.g., habitat restoration) on fish assemblages and populations. Information on side channels will also provide insight that can be used to develop more effective and efficient sampling designs.