Red Ives Creek Dam

Restoring native bull trout

About the Project

Red Ives Creek is a tributary of the St. Joe River, which flows 30 miles from high-elevation mountains in Northern Idaho into Lake Coeur d’Alene (CDA). Lake CDA is part of the Bunker Hill Superfund site, which triggered a 20-year effort to improve water quality and restore habitat in the basin. The Upper St. Joe River and its tributaries are in the traditional territory of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and are the last remaining stronghold for federally threatened bull trout within the 1,475 square-mile Lake CDA watershed.

Historical mining and timber harvest impacts to the Lake CDA watershed have led to critically low numbers of bull trout. Restoring Red Ives Creek is a high priority for basin stakeholders, including the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, because it flows through public lands and is one of the few drainages where bull trout have recently been documented spawning.

Red Ives Creek Dam is an obsolete 25-foot-wide, 3-foot-tall, low-head concrete dam owned by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Located one-half mile upstream from the creek’s confluence with the St. Joe River, this dam was built in 1930 to power the USFS’s Red Ives Ranger Station. The dam constricted flows and increased water velocity, limiting fish passage most of the year and interrupting wood and bedload transport. Additionally, a two-foot-wide, four-foot-deep open shaft located adjacent to the dam, often hidden by vegetation, created a hazard for both humans and wildlife.

Trout Unlimited (TU) partnered with USFS to remove Red Ives Dam in August 2021 and restore 200 feet of stream channel morphology, reconnecting the stream with the floodplain. The effort restores unimpeded juvenile and adult fish passage to five miles of native trout habitat.

The Restoration Partnership—a partnership that includes the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, USFS, U.S. Department of Interior, and State of Idaho—is working to restore the basin and improve water quality and connectivity for native trout populations. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe, though not directly involved in dam removal, is actively participating in the broader restoration effort. The full restoration plan includes over 22 projects, will restore over 50 miles of stream habitat, and repair or decommission over 30 miles of roads.

Owner: U.S. Forest Service
Size: 25 feet wide, 3 feet tall
Project Cost: $127,693
ORF Investment: Deconstruction
Miles Opened: 5 miles
Fish: ESA-listed fluvial bull trout and native westslope cutthroat trout
Status: Removed August 2021

  • Open 5 miles of unimpeded high-quality juvenile and adult fish passage
  • Restore 200 feet of stream channel morphology
  • Restore traditional cultural practices and territory of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe
  • Remove a safety hazard from the river for both people and wildlife
  • Set the stage and build support for the next phase of habitat restoration in the Lake Coeur d’Alene watershed
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Project Partners

Trout Unlimited

Coeur d’Alene Tribe

U.S. Forest Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Idaho Conservation League

State of Idaho