Clark Fork River delta restoration project work to resume

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Youth crews tasked with stemming bank erosion will plant trees, pull noxious weeds and reseed a portion of the Clark Fork River delta beginning this month.

Starting in mid-May and periodically throughout the spring and summer, youth crews from the Idaho Conservation Corp will camp at the Clark Fork Drift Yard while they assist Fish and Game in seeding, planting and weeding in the delta.

Three crews are expected to stay and work at the delta during May, July and August, according to Fish and Game.

The youth crews will pull noxious weeds from areas restored three years ago, and spread a native seed mix over these areas. Weed-free straw will provide some protection for the seed. The crews will also plant 840 woody and 1,500 emergent plants.

An estimated 12 to 15 acres along the river delta is lost annually because of wave action and water level fluctuations of Lake Pend Oreille because of the operation of the Albeni Falls Dam, according to Fish and Game. Between 15 and 25 percent of habitat loss in the delta is attributed to the operation of the Cabinet Gorge dam located upstream on the Clark Fork River, Fish and Game said.

Extensive bank erosion has occurred to islands and shorelines in the delta at the confluence of the Clark Fork River and Lake Pend Oreille because of the dams, said Katherine Cousins of Fish and Game.

Reed canarygrass, an invasive, non-native plant now dominates in the delta, Cousins said.

The first phase of the restoration project began in November 2014, and the construction ended in March 2015. Shoreline was protected using 50,000 tons of riprap and planting 51,000 willows. Hundreds of trees with rootwads were also embedded in the rock, and 100,000 plants were planted by volunteers, school groups and Idaho Department of Fish and Game staff. Weirs were also constructed and the land was raised with fill.

— Idaho Department of

Fish and Game staff

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