Fish and Wildlife Projects

Prior to European development, the Kootenai River valley was one of the largest and most productive riparian forest and wetland complexes in the North American Pacific Northwest. Humans made many changes to the Kootenai River watershed over the last century.

Today, this modified ecosystem is no longer able to support the biological complexity it once sustained. To learn more about each of the Tribe's projects to restore fish and wildlife, click on any of the links below
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Fish and Wildlife Projects

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The traditional lands of the Kootenai people were once rich with abundant fish and wildlife. Prior to European development, the Kootenai River valley was one of the largest and most productive riparian forest and wetland complexes in the North American Pacific Northwest.

Humans made many changes to the Kootenai River watershed over the last century. These included diking, agricultural development, logging, mining, and construction and operation of dams for flood control and power generation (Libby Dam in Montana and Corra Linn Dam in Canada). While these changes brought many social and economic benefits, they also caused enormous upsets to the ecological balance of the Kootenai watershed. More that 50,000 acres of floodplain were converted to agricultural fields resulting in the loss of riparian and wetland plant and animal communities, and the disruption of the normal floodplain functions that support a healthy ecosystem. Construction of Libby Dam cut off sediment and nutrient inputs from the upper watershed. Beginning in 1972, Libby Dam operations effectively reduced Kootenai River annual peak flows by half.

Today, this modified ecosystem is no longer able to support the biological complexity it once sustained. Native fish populations in the Kootenai River have been drastically reduced. The Kootenai River white sturgeon was listed as endangered in 1994, native burbot are nearly extinct, and bull trout are listed as threatened. Populations of many other culturally important native fish and wildlife have also declined. The Kootenai Tribe is not currently able to exercise their federally reserved rights to fish at usual and accustomed fishing areas and the Tribe’s access to traditional subsistence and cultural resources has been severely diminished.

The Tribe is addressing these changes and associated losses through implementation of an integrated fish and wildlife program. To learn more about each of the Tribe's fish and wildlife project components, click on any of the links at the top of this page.


AN INTEGRATED, COLLABORATIVE APPROACH


The Integrated Program is grounded in a core set of guiding principles:

  • Science-based–  Science-based decision making and management;
  • default_title–  Respect for and integration of Tribal cultural values and local social and economic values;
  • default_title–  Collaborative implementation in cooperation with co-managers and stakeholders including transboundary coordination;
  • default_title–  Incorporation of multi-disciplinary input and review;
  • default_title–  Understanding that when dealing with dynamic ecosystems, uncertainty is inevitable, therefore learning through structured adaptive management processes is critical.
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