The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) project was a subproject of the Kootenai Valley Wetlands NAWCA project. Funded through a $1 million grant provided to Ducks Unlimited through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant program, this large scale project was a partnership effort to conserve nearly 6,000 acres in the Kootenai River watershed. The River Bend project was one of two restoration projects funded by the NAWCA grant.

A combination of swales and ponds mimics historic Kootenai Valley wetlands.

Once containing more than 50,000 acres of wetlands and flooded riparian areas, the historic Kootenai River Valley was a waterfowl paradise. These wetlands were used by both breeding and migrating waterfowl, including goldeneyes, harlequins, mallards, pintails, tundra swans, Canada geese, and more. Before the project, the Kootenai NWR held most of the remaining wetlands in the Kootenai River Valley. Through the NAWCA project, this acreage nearly tripled, and waterfowl use of the valley is rebuilding.

The Kootenai River Valley once held more than 50,000 acres of wetlands.

The Kootenai NWR sub-project used a pump and water conveyance system, installed by an earlier DU project at the refuge, to flood 175 acres of seasonal wetlands. Small checks and ditches were created that help to provide a variety of shallow wetlands interspersed with grasslands that are managed specifically for waterfowl production and brood rearing. Completed in 2001, this project has produced immediate results and helps the refuge provide habitats for the complete annual life-cycle needs of waterfowl.