Status: In Progress


Location

The Black Lake Ranch project area is located on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) Coeur d’Alene River Wildlife Management Area within the floodplain of the Coeur d’Alene River near Black Lake in Kootenai County. The site includes areas both upstream and downstream from the Black Lake outlet channel. It includes approximately 300 acres of uplands and 700 acres of potential wetland and floodplain riparian habitat including 5 miles of Coeur d’Alene River streambank and 3,800 feet of Black Lake shoreline.

Background

Wetlands in the Coeur d’Alene River floodplain are affected by a legacy of mine waste contamination, including metals that are harmful to waterfowl and other wildlife. Wetland habitats have also been altered with installations of ditches and drains for agricultural development. Identifying, conserving, and restoring sites with strong potential for high quality wetland habitat is needed for waterfowl, especially areas where birds can feed without experiencing lead poisoning.

The Black Lake Ranch property was previously used for hay production and horse and cattle pastures. To facilitate agricultural production a system of ditches and pumps were used to dry the fields. Consequently, Black Lake has a long history of water quality impairment because nutrient-rich water was pumped from the project area’s agricultural fields into the lake. The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes somewhat protects the site from contamination in the Coeur d’Alene River’s floodwaters, which allows the site to have relatively low lead concentrations in the soil and low recontamination risk. The beneficial public use values and habitat potential of the site compelled IDFG to acquire the property and initiate this project to cleanup and restore the area.

Plans

This project will ultimately result in restoration of up to 700 acres of contaminated floodplain, with agricultural lands restored to semi-permanent wetlands and waterfowl habitat. IDFG is leading the project in coordination with EPA and the Restoration Partnership. Phases are planned over several years. The first phase, funded by the Partnership in 2018, will include engineering and design to set the stage for future cleanup and restoration. Near-term activities include:

  • Characterizing soils and estimating the total contaminated soil volume
  • Performing contour surveys of at least 1-foot or finer scale
  • Studying hydrology to estimate timing, movement, and volume of surface and ground water throughout the year, including an assessment of recontamination risk from floodwaters
  • Engineering and design of restored wetlands.
  • Anticipated activities for future phases include potential cleanup by EPA which may include consolidation and capping of contaminated soils. Other anticipated activities for restoration of the site include:

  • Developing infrastructure for access and management
  • Excavating wetlands, re-grading soils, and constructing nesting or loafing islands for birds
  • Adding water-control structures and managing water levels to optimize wetland recovery and habitat restoration
  • Revegetating the site with grasses, shrubs, and trees.
  • Benefits

    The project will ultimately restore wetlands and waterfowl habitat. These efforts will benefit waterfowl and other wildlife by increasing the amount of functioning, high quality habitat, and improving nutrient filtering and water quality.

    Contact

    David Leptich
    Regional Wildlife Habitat Biologist
    Idaho Department of Fish and Game
    2885 W. Kathleen Ave.
    Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815
    (208) 769-1414
    david.leptich@idfg.idaho.gov

    Sponsor

    Idaho Department of Fish and Game

    Partners

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

    The Black Lake Ranch property shortly after IDFG acquisition in 2017 and before restoration.

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