Idaho Project Reverses Wetland Loss and Improves Water Quality

DU and partners complete project on Marsh Creek

An innovative wetland restoration project that combined efforts to conserve waterfowl habitat and improve water quality in the Snake River watershed was recently completed by DU and partners in Idaho. The Marsh Creek Restoration Project was designed and constructed specifically to restore productive wetland habitat for waterfowl, while reducing high levels of sediment, phosphorous, and bacteria in Marsh Creek, a tributary of the Snake River. Wetlands not only provide vital habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife but also serve as natural filters, removing large volumes of sediment and other pollutants from streams, rivers, and lakes.

The Snake River is a vital resource for fish and wildlife in Idaho and is the focus of DU's Snake River Plain Initiative. Marsh Creek and the Snake River are both listed by the State of Idaho as having impaired water quality.

This project took place on the 19,000-acre Six S Ranch near Declo, Idaho. The ranch teamed up with DU to develop a restoration plan, which  involved the diversion of creek flows through several wetland basins along a five-mile stretch of the creek to remove pollutants and restore wetland habitat. Low dikes were constructed and water-control structures were installed to provide water-control capabilities in wetland areas. Rock weirs and water-diversion structures were also built at three points along the creek to allow water to be channeled into restored wetlands. Native grasses will be seeded around these wetlands to provide nesting cover for waterfowl.

DU was awarded $125,000 from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality for this project. Additional project funds were contributed by the Six S Ranch, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. DU provided in-kind technical assistance to complete this work.