Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lapwai Creek Steelhead Habitat

Purpose: To enhance steelhead trout natural production by improving salmonid spawning and rearing habitat in Lapwai Creek Watershed.

Special Emphasis: Agricultural lands with existing land-use practices which are adversely impacting fish habitat with the goal of:

  • Improving watershed hydrology
  • Increasing multi-layered riparian vegetation
  • Reducing impacts from sediment, nutrients, and bacteria which are adversely impacting water quality
  • Focusing on riparian areas

Project funded through Bonneville Power Administration’s Fish and Wildlife Program.


Steelhead Spawning Video

Lapwai Creek

Lapwai Creek is located in North Central Idaho and is within Nez Perce and Lewis counties, Idaho. The National Marine Fisheries Service in their 2011 draft Idaho Snake River spring/summer Chinook and steelhead Recovery Plan identifies Lapwai Creek as critical steelhead habitat within the lower Clearwater River.

Steelhead habitat restoration efforts have been on-going since 2003. The majority of the funding for restoration efforts is provided by the Bonneville Power Administration, with supplemental funding from Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation’s Snake River Basin Adjudication Program and Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 grant program.

Lapwai Creek Steelhead Habitat Restoration Plan

This planning effort was a joint project between the Nez Perce Soil and Water Conservation District (NPSWCD) and the Nez Perce Tribe Department of Fisheries Resources Management Watershed Division (NPT-DFRM-Watershed). The document’s purpose is to guide steelhead habitat restoration activities within the Lapwai Creek watershed for the period of 2009-2019.

View Plan

Restoration Projects

Restoration project activities are planned annually with most individual activities taking three to five years to complete. Project activities are categorized as outreach/education, monitoring/data collection, demonstration projects, and land improvement projects. Land improvement projects consist of three phases. First is to complete a land inventory which helps identifies improvements. Second is design completion which details the construction needs and third is implementation of the design where we work with landowners to fund project installation. Not all projects make it through the three phases as costs, feasibility or landowner management goals are not met.


Land Improvement Activities

2016 Project List:

Mission Creek Channel Restoration Assessment NPSWCD 16-1430

2013 Projects List:

Riparian Zone Weed Treatment 2013

Riparian Zone Weed Treatment 2013

In the summer of 2013, the District treated 138 riparian acres for weeds in Nez Perce County. Twenty-three sites were visited and treated by scalping, weed eating, and spraying. The target species was poison hemlock and the target areas included those most visited by people to prevent spread. The sites treated in 2013 are part of an on-going effort to improve fish habitat in the Lapwai Creek Watershed. By working to control the poison hemlock and other invasive weeds at these sites, it is the District’s goal to reduce the instream temperature and improve the riparian corridor. This project was funded by the Bonneville Power Administration Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed Program. View 2013 End of Year Report


Monitoring and Data Collection Activities

Stream Temperature Monitoring Results 2014

Eight sites were monitored for stream temperature within the Lapwai Creek watershed in 2014. Thermograph loggers were deployed in April and retrieved in November. Deployment and data handling was completed as per Stream Temperature Monitoring in Idaho by the Nez Perce Soil and Water Conservation District. The majority of sites experienced instantaneous temperatures exceeding 13˚C in the spring and fall. Therefore, the reduction of in-stream temperatures to the benchmark conditions of zero days of water temperature exceeding 16˚C was not met.

Figure 1. Site Map

Stream Sites


The majority of sites experienced instantaneous temperatures exceeding 13˚C in the spring and fall. Therefore, the reduction of in-stream temperatures to the benchmark conditions of zero days of water temperature exceeding 16˚C was not met.

Table 1: Percentage of days monitored that exceeded specified temperatures

Table 1

Demonstration Activities

Hemlock Rehabilitation Demonstration Project

The demonstration project began in 2012 as part of an effort to identify the best techniques for the restoration of heavily infested poison hemlock vegetation sites. Restoration projects adjacent to streams and springs in the Lapwai Creek watershed are necessary to improve steelhead habitat along the streams. Springs within the lower Lapwai system contribute significantly to lower stream temperatures and have been documented to be areas of high juvenile steelhead densities. The majority of the springs are heavily infested with invasive species. In order to restore native vegetation to these ecosystems the noxious and invasive plants need to be suppressed. The field trial and demonstration will focus on poison hemlock control and revegetation. The NPSWCD identified poison hemlock as one of the top three weeds (along with reeds canarygrass and knotweed) to control prior to restoration.

Figure 1. Hemlock Demonstration Project Site

Hemlock Demonstration Project Site

The demonstration project is located on private lands along South Tom Beall Road. The site was selected due to the density of hemlock as well as the ease of access for treatment and evaluation. The site can be viewed from South Tom Beall Road. Please remember that the site is privately owned and to obtain access to the site requires land owner permission. The NPSWCD recommends that interested parties either view the site from the road or contact our office at 208-843-2931 to obtain permission.

Figure 2. 2012 treatment map

2012 Treatment Map

In 2012, areas were designated for spraying, mowing, mowing and spraying, and no treatment. These areas are roughly illustrated in the image below. The mowing was performed with weed eaters, while the spraying was completed using backback sprayers with metsulfuron methyl (1 gram / gallon) and glyphosate. The first treatment was on May 30, 2012 and the second on August 20, 2012, the third on June 10, 2013 and the fourth on June 4, 2014. Part of the site was cultivated in November 2014, then harrowed using an ATV and drag harrow in February 2, 2015 and broadcast seeded using hand seeders on February 4, 2015. The grass species used included Idaho Fescue, Secar Bluebunch Wheatgrass, Sherman Big Bluegrass, and Magnar Basin Wildrye.

A variety of trees and shrubs were planted in December 2014 and February 2015. These shrubs are planted in rows with either weed barrier or no barrier. The rows are numbered with signs attached to fence posts. The species planted include sage (3 types), winterfat, four wing salt bush, syringe, ponderosa pine, basin wildrye, rose, sumac (2 types), and mountain mahogany (2 types). The plants will be monitored for survival over time.

See a photo gallery a photo gallery of this project below.


Hemlock Rehabilitation Demonstration Site

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Outreach and Education Activities
Under development

Contact Us

Nez Perce
Soil and Water
Conservation District

Office Location:
27880 Chambers Road
Culdesac, ID 83524
(Map of Office Location)

Phone: (208) 843-2931
Fax: (208) 843-2234


Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 131
Culdesac, ID 83524

Office Hours:
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
or by appointment

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