Turning a River Right – Prichard Creek

The Coeur d’Alene Project Manager, Erin Plue, is excited for the upcoming restoration of Prichard Creek which feeds into the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. This project is highly anticipated by local stakeholders and fisheries managers. This waterbody was the site of numerous hard rock mines, immense hydraulic mining, and an in-stream dredge that turned over five miles of the valley in the early 1900’s. Even with the destruction of this waterbody, westslope cutthroat trout still pile up at Prichard because of the cold water, but at about four miles up the stream they are blocked from reaching ten more miles of cold water refuge in the summer by subsurface flows due to the impact of the placer dredge mining.

Prichard Creek is currently owned by a private lumber company, Idaho Forest Group (IFG), who is putting about 10.5 miles of the 14-mile stream into a conservation easement. Funding for the investigations, planning, and construction is coming from a local fund comprised of mining settlement money and managed by the Restoration Partnership, with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality serving as the fiscal sponsor for the project. Trout Unlimited is managing the project with significant involvement from IFG.

The first phase of the project is underway with multiple consultants currently studying the geomorphology, biology, cultural history of the project area. Currently a multi-phased restoration plan is being developed and design for the first phase of construction is almost complete. The first phase of construction entails four sections of the bottom four miles of stream. Implementation of Phase 1 construction will begin the summer of 2022 and aims to be completed in 2023.

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