Spill to Help Kootenai River White Sturgeon May Not Take Place

By Beacon Staff

An experiment to spill water from Libby Dam to help white sturgeon in the Kootenai River might not proceed because of below-average mountain snowpack levels.

Snowpack in the Kootenai River Basin is 71 percent of average and well below the level at the same time last year. Plus, the streamflow forecast for the river basin predicts levels of just 66 percent of average from April through July.

Brian Marotz, a fisheries program manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, says how the rest of the winter plays out will determine if the planned spill will proceed. He says “just meeting the minimum flows in the Kootenai River is going to make it very difficult to refill” Lake Koocanusa over the next few months.

The spill is meant to encourage white sturgeon to move into the best spawning areas just upstream from Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

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