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NESPELEM - A million-dollar project that will improve habitat and stream flow for rainbow trout in the Sanpoil River sub-basin is scheduled to be completed by the end of January.

Four old culverts - two at Iron Creek and two at Louie Creek - are being replaced and new bridges are being installed at all four sites, said Colville tribal Department of Fish and Wildlife officials.

The project also involves repairing fencing and planting new vegetation because of degradation by livestock.

“We set out to address four stream crossings which were fish passage barriers,” said Dennis Moore, tribal fish habitat biologist. “These barriers consisted of culverts which were undersized and had design features which did not permit them to adequately accommodate hydrologic processes such as seasonal changes to the volume and velocity of flow of water and debris.”

Staff also maintained more than 17 miles of existing fence to protect riparian habitat from livestock and constructed an additional quarter-mile of new fencing.

“They are also maintaining some of the riparian planting by suppressing invasive weeds and planting additional trees at Lost Creek, 23 Mile Creek and South Nanamkin Creek,” said Moore. “Healthy vegetation can shade streams and provide light and temperature conditions that are beneficial to plants, fish, and other organisms.”

The project is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration.

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