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Title: Secure & Restore Critical Fisheries Habitat, Flathead Subbasin, FY2008 Annual Report.

The construction of Hungry Horse Dam inundated 125 km of adfluvial trout habitat in the South Fork of the Flathead River and its tributaries, impacting natural fish reproduction and rearing. Rapid residential and commercial growth in the Flathead Watershed now threaten the best remaining habitats and restrict our opportunities to offset natural resource losses. Hydropower development and other land disturbances caused severe declines in the range and abundance of our focal resident fish species, bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. Bull trout were listed as threatened in 1998 under the Endangered Species Act and westslope cutthroat were petitioned for listing under ESA. Westslope cutthroat are a species of special concern in Montana and a species of special consideration by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The Secure & Protect Fisheries Habitat project follows the logical progression towards habitat restoration outlined in the Hungry Horse Dam Fisheries Mitigation Implementation Plan approved by the NWPPC in 1993. This project is also consistent with the 2000 Fish and Wildlife Program and the Flathead River Subbasin Plan that identifies the protection of habitats for these populations as one of the most critical needs in the subbasin and directs actions to offset habitat losses. Themore » Flathead basin is one of the fastest growing human population centers in Montana. Riparian habitats are being rapidly developed and subdivided, causing habitat degradation and altering ecosystem functions. Remaining critical habitats in the Flathead Watershed need to be purchased or protected with conservation easements if westslope cutthroat and bull trout are to persist and expand within the subbasin. In addition, habitats degraded by past land uses need to be restored to maximize the value of remaining habitats and offset losses caused by the construction of Hungry Horse Dam. Securing and restoring remaining riparian habitat will benefit fish by shading and moderating water temperatures, stabilizing banks and protecting the integrity of channel dimension, improving woody debris recruitment for in-channel habitat features, producing terrestrial insects and leaf litter for recruitment to the stream, and helping to accommodate and attenuate flood flows. The purpose of this project is to work with willing landowners to protect the best remaining habitats in the Flathead subbasin as identified in the Flathead River Subbasin Plan. The target areas for land protection activities follow the priorities established in the Flathead subbasin plan and include: (1) Class 1 waters as identified in the Flathead River Subbasin Plan; (2) Class 2 watersheds as identified in the Flathead River Subbasin Plan; and (3) 'Offsite mitigation' defined as those Class 1 and Class 2 watersheds that lack connectivity to the mainstem Flathead River or Flathead Lake. This program focuses on conserving the highest quality or most important riparian or fisheries habitat areas consistent with program criteria. The success of our efforts is subject to a property's actual availability and individual landowner negotiations. The program is guided using biological and project-based criteria that reflect not only the priority needs established in the Flathead subbasin plan, but also such factors as cost, credits, threats, and partners. The implementation of this project requires both an expense and a capital budget to allow work to be completed. This report addresses accomplishments under both budgets during FY08 as the two budgets are interrelated. The expense budget provided pre-acquisition funding to conduct activities such as surveys, appraisals, staff support, etc. The capital budget was used to purchase the interest in each parcel including closing costs. Both the pre-acquisition contract funds and the capital funds used to purchase fee title or conservation easements were spent in accordance with the terms negotiated within the FY08 through FY09 MOA between the Tribes, State, and BPA. In FY08, the focus of this project was to pursue all possible properties targeted by the Tribes and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Although we were not be able to acquire an interest in all properties targeted this fiscal year due to limited time, BPA staff constraints, and negotiation constraints, we expended approximately $4.2M providing BPA with 4.2 km of credit. The Siderius and Gardner parcels were protected with conservation easements. The Siderius conservation easement is held by the Flathead Land Trust and the Gardner conservation easement is held by the Tribes. Fee title was acquired for three parcels with the Tribes holding title to the Cole and Firestone parcels and MFWP holding title to the parcels acquired from Plum Creek Timber Company. All stream kilometers credited to BPA offset construction and inundation impacts (not operations related impacts) associated with Hungry Horse Dam as defined in the 1991 Hungry Horse Loss Assessment.« less
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
  2. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
TRN: US200916%%277
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Portland, OR (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States