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Project Partners

  • City of Bellevue

  • Flood Control District #9

  • Diversion 45 Canal District

  • Friends of the Howard Preserve

  • several private landowners

  • Trout Unlimited

  • Wood River Land Trust


  • Idaho Water Resource Board

  • Flood control district

  • City of Bellevue

  • Wood River Land Trust

River Enhancements

Riparian enhancement, Tributary reconnection, In-stream flow enhancements

Project Cost


One of the biggest issues through the Howard Preserve is that the Big Wood River functions best when the main flow can split into multiple channels.  But, right now, the river is all in one main channel through the Preserve.  Having all of the water in the river in one channel makes it hard for fish to find refuge and habitat when the water is moving fast or when the water starts to warm up in the summer.  This project is going to open up a side channel - bringing a portion of the river flow through this other area.  This new, smaller channel will provide lots and lots of different kinds of habitats and will provide a critical place for baby fishes to grow into the large fish that can compete in the main river.  

In order to open up this channel, we need to lower this section of the bank, which brings us to the second problem with this section: the banks are too high!  

These steep, tall banks are a result of the high river velocities as it has been channelized through the diversion dam.  When you constrict the river, it goes faster, and when that faster water hits the banks of the river, it creates these deep and steep banks.  Eventually, the erosion of these banks makes the river so much lower than the floodplain disconnected from that floodplain.  This is called an incision.  That means that the river is completely disconnected from the habitats that fish and wildlife depend on.

This project is part of a mile-long design from Broadford Bridge down to Riverside Estates on the Big Wood River. A large stakeholder group consisting of City of Bellevue, Flood Control District #9, Diversion 45 Canal District, Friends of the Howard Preserve, several private landowners, Trout Unlimited and Wood River Land Trust, all contributed funds to this design.

The purpose of the design was to find flood mitigation solutions for private property and enhance floodplain and natural fluvial processes.

Project goals and benefits

With the completion of this project, we were able to remove about 4,000 cubic yards of fill to lower this side channel and connect it to the main river channel.

We were also able to install woody piles into the side channel to start building habitat that young fish need.  These woody structures are full of nooks, crannies, and slow shady pools that will be a perfect home for young fish.

We will continue our post-restoration monitoring and will update this page with how this side channel and floodplain enhancements are faring.  Check back often!

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