Ducks Unlimited recently partnered with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to perform wetland and creek restoration on 55 acres at the southern end of Cocolalla Lake, which is situated 15 miles south of Sandpoint in Bonner County, Idaho. This project was several years in the making, restoring wetlands that had been drained and subsequently farmed for decades, leaving a meadow dominated by a monoculture of reed canarygrass, which has little value for waterfowl or other wildlife.
DU collected feasibility data, performed a topographic survey and groundwater monitoring in 2011, and completed the final design of the wetland and stream restoration elements in 2012. Restoration was completed at the site in October of 2015, which included creation of ponds and other shallow excavations to increase wetland habitat and diversity, raising an existing road bed, new alignment for sections of Fish Creek, control of the aggressive non-native reed canarygrass, and stream channel enhancements, such as large woody debris. A Ducks Unlimited engineer managed the earthwork activities, including hiring and managing the earthwork subcontractor and inspecting the completed work.
In the fall of 2016, native trees and shrubs will be planted along the new creek alignment to replace lost riparian habitat. This site was little known and little used by the surrounding community before construction, but already experienced use in the first month after construction. Fall rains filled the excavations, creating interesting and attractive features to explore, allowing locals to walk, exercise dogs, ride horses, and scope out waterfowl hunting opportunities in the numerous new wetlands. This project’s activities will benefit many wetland dependent species including waterfowl, as well as numerous trout species and improve the water quality in the creek.