The Lapwai Creek watershed is a mixture of mainly private and tribal land. To achieve success, restoration has to occur on both ownerships. A strong relationship has been built with the Nez Perce Water and Soil Conservation District. This proposal’s projects focus on Tribal land and complement the NPWSCD work that will focus on private lands. In addition, this project is coordinated with the Idaho Fish and Game and the NPT Water Resources and Land Services Departments. The greatest factors limiting fish production in Lapwai Creek are summer low flows and high temperatures, sedimentation, riparian degradation, channel/bank instability, and passage of aquatic life.
Work on this project has laid a solid foundation for stream/watershed restoration work to include: fish presence, absence, abundance data collected on the mainstem of Lapwai Creek and all major tributaries; stream visual assessment data collected on 120 miles of stream by the NPWSCD; very comprehensive baseline habitat monitoring data collected at the watershed scale; fish passage assessment; road erosion assessment and transportation planning; and the development of a Natural Resources Assessment Protocol to assess and make stream restoration project recommendations on individual tribal properties. In addition, many on-the-ground projects were implemented such as fencing, off-site watering, riparian plantings, and weed control.
This strong foundation has presented a great opportunity to make large strides in stream/watershed restoration implementation proposed by this project. Nez Perce Tribal properties encompass approximately 52 miles of stream within the Lapwai Creek watershed. This project will implement high priority stream/watershed restoration projects based on the data collected above. These projects include: fish barrier replacements; stream/riparian protection through off-site water development, fencing, planting, weed control, grassed waterways and purchasing grazing lease for resting land; and reducing upland chronic sediment sources by decommissioning unneeded roads and upgrading road to remain. Working in a highly mixed ownership increases the need to work closely with agencies and the public within the watershed. This project will continue conservation land management planning using the NRAMP, make recommendation to regulating agencies on updating environmental ordinances and policies, and provide outreach and education to the public and high school students.