In the fall of 2003 Ducks Unlimited (DU) acquired the 620-acre Smith Creek tract in the floodplain of the Kootenai River-northwest of Bonners Ferry, Idaho-using funding from a North American Wetlands Conservation (NAWCA) grant. The owner of this tract had previously enrolled the land in a perpetual wetland protection easement under the federal Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).

Smith Creek in 1914

Smith Creek today.

Management of the Smith Creek tract, under agreement with DU, was assumed by the Idaho Fish and Game Department who already managed the 1400-acre Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area immediately to the north of the Smith Creek tract. Extensive areas of wetlands had previously been restored by DU on the Boundary Creek WMA with funding largely provided through WRP. The Smith Creek tract was a natural and logical addition to the Boundary Creek WMA.

Restoration of approximately 400 acres of wetlands on the Smith Creek tract was accomplished by DU during the past year, again with much of the funding being provided by WRP. Agricultural drainage ditches were plugged and water level control structures installed to retain virtually every drop of water that fell or ran onto this tract. Numerous swales and depressions were excavated to provide water for wildlife during dry periods.

Smith Creek waterfowl

The Smith Creek tract provides habitat to numerous species of waterfowl including mallards, wood ducks, goldeneye and hooded mergansers, as well as habitat for thousands of waterfowl and other waterbirds that migrate down the Kootenai River corridor using the Creston Wildlife Area immediately to the north in Canada, and The Nature Conservancy's Ball Creek Ranch and the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge to the south. Several bald eagles and osprey nest in ancient cottonwood trees along the Kootenai River, and river bottom wetlands provide habitat for such notable species as moose and grizzly bear.