Community-Based Stream Improvement and the Watershed Restoration Plan (WRP)
In 2015, the Kootenai River Network – in collaboration with numerous watershed partners – created a community-based stream improvement and watershed restoration plan for the Montana portion of the Kootenai. The full plan can be accessed by clicking the document shown to the right.
Watershed Restoration Plans (WRPs) help ensure that community priorities for water and water resources are addressed. The Watershed Restoration Plan (WRP) outlines these priorities, potential projects, management options, and identifies likely stream improvements. Community stream improvement is:
- Watershed based
- Based on community priorities for water use
- Implemented through voluntary landowner and stakeholder projects to improve stream health
The Montana DEQ watershed planning website provides additional information what goes into a WRP and houses all completed WRPs for the State here.
The KRN would like to thank everyone who has participated in the watershed restoration plan development process. In the spring of 2015, twenty-four people attended one of three community meetings in Eureka, Troy, and Libby. Fourteen people offered comments through the supplemental survey. Twenty-six people representing the Army Corps of Engineers, Conservation District, Northern Lights, Inc., Hecla Mining, Inc., Weyerhaeuser, Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, NRCS, DNRC, the Yaak Valley Forest Council, and the Forest Service were also interviewed to identify further areas for stream improvement.
The plan addresses concerns on and around over 30 streams and rivers in the Montana section of the Kootenai watershed. Concerns included infrastructure and property protection, fisheries, wildlife, recreation, access, drinking water, catastrophic fire, invasive and non-native species, flooding, and continued economic development of the area – particularly mining and logging.
Potential projects for stream and watershed improvement were quite varied, depending on the priorities of the stakeholders and landowners present and the concerns they would like addressed. Project ideas ranged from channel, fish habitat, and stream bank restoration to culvert upgrades and riparian fencing projects. In a few areas, participants thought that further improvements were not needed or were infeasible with current technology. Project development ranged from the idea stage to planned activities that will probably be implemented in 2015.
Further education and communication was also identified as important. Several community participants expressed interest in learning more about projects already completed and in best management practices that could address their concerns. Further strengthening communication between active participants in watershed restoration was also seen as a way to ensure that coordinated, effective work within the watershed would continue.
A Watershed Restoration Forum was held in Libby in March 2016 to roll out the plan and discuss coordination on implementation. This session was attended by 20 key basin stakeholders.
Implementation of the plan will be tracked annually by KRN, and periodic progress reports posted to this page.