Underwriting provided by:
The Laura Moore Cunningham

Boundary-Smith Creek Wildlife Management Area

Like most of the Kootenai River Valley below Bonners Ferry what is now the wildlife management area used to be farmland, primarily used for growing wheat. For the last decade and a half the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has been working to restore the land to a more natural habitat.

The Boundary-Smith Creek Wildlife Management Area was established in 1999. It's a two-thousand acre preserve near the Canadian border. In fact, Boundary Creek on its northern edge actually serves as the line for the U.S.-Canadian border.

Wide shot of wildlife management area

One of the big goals is to mimic some of the wetlands that were historically here. And so when we retired this from agricultural ground, it was pretty incredible to see how much of the wetland plants actually still came back up, your cattails, your different sedges. And then when you started to get that wetland component coming back, then we were starting to get some of those wetland loving waterfowl and any kind of shore birds and, red winged blackbirds and a huge array of waterfowl that would migrate through here in the spring and the fall. So this is a great mecca for the wildlife watcher
-- Jim Derrig, Wildlife habitat biologist

Birds in the wetlands

Derrig started working at the wildlife management area as a seasonal employee in 2005. Now, as habitat manager he's starting to see some of the results of all his years of work. And he's always thinking of ways to improve this property.

Derrig in the canoe

I'm always brainstorming, what can we do different or what can we improve. And I got hooked on to the habitat side because it's really important. Wildlife can't really survive without the correct vegetation and water quality they require. We've been doing tens of hundreds and thousands of plants to try to mimic what it was a hundred years ago. And it's a slow process, you know. And I'm definitely excited to be a part of it. So it's definitely like the last thing you can see in Idaho what would be a lasting legacy of what we look forward to, what we can provide for wildlife and for the public.
-- Jim Derrig, Wildlife habitat biologist