Tribe proposes new hatchery
October 31, 2012
By Mike Weland
After the remarkable success of the Kootenai
Tribal Hatchery, built in the early 1990s, the
tribe is proposing a second, larger hatchery
facility at their Twin Rivers Canyon Resort,
situated at the confluence of the Moyie and
The tribe has submitted an application for a
county conditional use permit, and the Boundary
County Planning and Zoning Commission will hear
public comment at public hearing during their
next meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, November 15.
Hatchery-raised Kootenai white sturgeon.
As proposed, the main building, a 32,574
square-foot hatchery facility, and accessory
buildings, will be built on a natural bench
above flood elevation, both to protect the
facility and to provide gravity drainage into
the river and rearing ponds to be built to raise
fish, especially Kootenai River White Sturgeon
and ling cod. The sturgeon is recognized as
endangered, the burbot trending that way.
The recovery plan the tribe proposes isn't
When they established the existing hatchery,
located at the Kootenai Mission, the tribe's
effort were stymied by resistance from many
agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, throwing numerous regulatory roadblocks
in their attempt to assist in the restoration of
The tribe persevered, however, and it was soon
recognized by those very agencies that the
tribe's approach was critical to the success of
fish recovery efforts.
or ling cod
One of the developments to arise as a result of
the contention was the recognition that a local
voice could matter, and make a difference.
Disparate local voices stopped screaming at each
other and started listening to one another, and
realized that despite many differences, the
similarities were greater. Apart, we were all
small voices. easily dismissed.
The result was a local powerhouse, the
Kootenai Valley Resource Initiarive,
a local collaboration that's been recognized in
the halls of Congress as the ideal of how
local groups interact with state and federal
agencies. The KVRI Burbot subcommittee was
formed and worked for more than two years to
develop a burbot conservation strategy. The new
hatchery facility is an integral partof that
The new hatchery facility, if approved by county
planning and zoning, will
make the tribe's contribution even more vital.
"The proposed Twin Rivers Hatchery is a key
addition to the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho's
ongoing native fish conservation aquaculture
program," tribal biologist Sue Ireland wrote in
their application. "Two species, burbot (ling
cod) and Kootenai River white sturgeon, will be
reared at Twin Rivers. The purpose of the
Tribe's sturgeon program is to prevent the
extinction of the Kootenai white sturgeon,
preserve the existing gene pool, and continue
rebuilding a healthy age class structure for
this declining population. The purpose of the
burbot program is to reintroduce burbot into the
lower Kootenai River and begin rebuilding the
population using genetically similar stock from
The tribe purchased Twin Rivers Canyon Resort, a
popular camping and RV park, in 2007. The
hatchery, if approved, will not only help
preserve native fish species, but the park as
well, providing an additional attraction.
An open-air visitor's kiosk near the base of
Twin Rivers Road is part of the proposal.
The application is available for review during
office hours of the planning and zoning
department, Room 16 at the Boundary County
Courthouse, 6452 Kootenai Street, Bonners Ferry,
or by calling (208) 267-7212, and public
participation is encouraged.
Written comment, which must be received by 5
p.m. Wednesday, November 7, to be considered,
can be mailed to Planning and Zoning, P.O. Box
419, Bonners Ferry 83805, faxed to (208)
267-1205 or emailed to
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