Bonner SWCD’s Project Tour on June 7th, 2011

On June 7th, the Bonner SWCD led a project tour for nearly 30 people, including NRCS, state budget staff, and the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission members, their staff, and IASCD.

Our first stop was one of Bonner’s boat inspection stations on Highway 95. Last year, Bonner’s boat inspection staff inspected approximately 12,308 boats at 3 stations. They found no invasive mussels on the boats they inspected, but did have to hot wash 95 boats. Bonner SWCD staff estimates that it would cost the State of Idaho $94,474,000 if Idaho’s lakes and streams were plagued with Zebra or Quagga mussels. The boat inspection crew shared their mantra with us: Clean, Drain and Dry your boat!

The next project we toured was the willow nursery. Bonner SWCD partnered with the Kootenai-Ponderay Sewer District in 2007 with the goal of planting willows with high water intake to expand the capacity for land application at the Kootenai-Ponderay Sewer District and reduce the amount of effluent discharged into Lake Pend Oreille. The second goal was to supply the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille watershed with willows for shoreline stabilization projects. In 2010, there were 1250 cuttings used for stream bank stabilization projects, and 600 cuttings have been utilized this year. Bonner SWCD was also able to secure a $3,225 grant from US Fish and Wildlife Service for a water-jet stinger to help plant the willows.

Despite the very bumpy road, and the mammoth mosquitoes, we made it to the next project. This was a 350 acre forest and hay ground operation, with ongoing forest management and a developing grazing operation. Using combined WQPA and EQIP dollars on a portion of the acres that can be grazed, a conservation plan was developed that included thinning, slash management, critical area planting and prescribed grazing. We were able to meet the landowner at the end of the tour, and he was very happy with the work of Bonner SWCD and partners to help improve his land.

The last stop was on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille to take a look at the mycelium filtration swales and bank stabilization. Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus. Fungi are Mother Nature’s best decomposers, especially of organic compounds, pesticides, and petroleum products. These swales were built right next to the boat ramp and filled with hardwood chips treated with mycelium. The swales filter runoff from the parking lot and neighboring baseball field. We were able to see some mushroom growth in these swales. Next, some of us walked the shore of the lake to see the native planting to prohibit noxious weeds and prevent erosion. Bonner SWCD received $84,700 in grant funds from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Tri-State Water Quality Council, ISCC, NRCS, IASCD and the City of Sandpoint to accomplish both projects.

You can see all the photos of the afternoon by clicking here.

Thank you to Bonner SWCD staff and board members for a great afternoon!

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