Removal of the Red Ives Dam has been anticipated for over 20 years! And the dam wasn’t giving up easy even when it came down to its final days. A fire had compromised the major access road to the forest, and it was headed in the direction of the major other access road. This situation led the Forest to close the area in which the dam was located to public access and management of the area was temporally handed over to a Type 1 fire team. Getting permission into the site seemed unlikely, but it was thankfully granted to the team and the weather cooperated to allow for removal of the Red Ives Dam.
Trout Unlimited partnered with the St. Joe Rangers Station of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest to remove the Red Ives Dam this August using funds supplied by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Forest Service, Idaho Conservation League, Resources Legacy Fund, and the Coeur d’Alene Basin Restoration Partnership. The Red Ives Dam was built in the 1930s to provide power to the nearby ranger station until the mid 1980s. This project was the first project to hit the ground as a partnership between the Idaho Panhandle National Forest and Trout Unlimited.
Even though the fire was compromising the access into the forest, the project area was not in immediate threat and the skies were clearer and the temperatures cooler than anywhere outside the Forest. Between the remote forest setting with none of the typical August crowds and the lack of traffic to manage, the project setting was idyllic. Our only visitors were the local marten, beavers, and the occasional firefighter completing their rounds.
The dam proved to be of hardy construction representative of the times it was built. Far more concrete and rebar than the partners anticipated, but once the contractors solidified their method for hammering, the Red Ives Dam days were quickly done. Once all remnants of the dam were removed, the channel was regraded with a couple pools and a debris jam to provide cover for the native westslope cutthroat and bull trout. Red Ives Creek is one of the last remaining streams in which bull trout spawn, removal of the dam has opened the pathway to more habitat for the fish and for future phases of restoration on the waterway.