A unique conservation partnership recently restored 201 acres of wetland habitat on two projects in the Bruneau River floodplain of southern Idaho. Initially, a 100-acre project was developed on the Bruneau River Ranch as part of Ducks Unlimited's Middle Snake River North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant.
This project involved construction of a series of low-profile dikes and installation of water-control structures to enhance natural floodwater distribution, supplement the floodplain with irrigation water, and restore seasonally flooded shallow grasslands. Early in the design phase of this project, the landowner enrolled the property in the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service's (NRCS) Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). DU and the NRCS formed a partnership in which DU utilized NAWCA funds to conduct the topographical survey, groundwater monitoring, engineering design, and construction oversight for this project. The NRCS funded the construction, provided quality assurance and control, and worked with the landowner to restore vegetation on the site following construction work.
This NRCS partnership and WRP funding made it possible for DU to reallocate NAWCA funding elsewhere. A partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Idaho Department of Fish and Game allowed DU to complete an additional project in close proximity to the Bruneau River Ranch on the Little Jacks Creek floodplain, restoring an additional 101 acres of this historical floodplain.
Southern Idaho is an important spring staging area for waterfowl and other water bird populations. However, as in many other parts of the Intermountain West, changes in irrigation and other farming practices now threaten these vital waterfowl migration habitats.