The above average snowpack in the East Kootenay this year is presenting a unique opportunity for the Spring Sturgeon flow.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has begun increasing Libby Dam discharge to full powerhouse capacity, approximately 23,200 cubic feet per second (cfs) and will remain at that level for about one week before decreasing to 18,00 cfs.
This hopes to provide river conditions that may increase spawning for Kootenai River white sturgeon which are endangered on both sides of the border.
Biologist James Flory says with the snowpack in our region at 140 per cent, they are going to discharge for about a week, on two-separate occasions, before the end of May.
Flory explains the first peak, which occurred last week, is colder water designed to trigger the sturgeon to start their migration out of Kootenay Lake and upstream towards Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho.
Bonners Ferry is thought to be habitat conductive to successful spawning, egg hatching and survival of larval sturgeon.
As the higher elevation snow begins to melt, the second peak will start in an effort to encourage their spawning behavior.
Flory says they always don’t get the chance to conduct two discharges.
The practice does affect levels in Lake Koocanusa.
Latest projections indicate a moderate chance of exceeding flood stage at Bonners Ferry, Idaho – which is 1,764 feet.
– Josh Hoffman
– US Fish and Wildlife Biologist James Flory