Plants, animals, habitats

How we protect wildlife

Generating power and bringing it to you every day is our job. Doing it without harm — that's our obligation. We work hard to help plants and wildlife thrive, for you, and for the natural resources that you enjoy. Here's how.

Our team of fisheries biologists work year-round on bull trout passage projects. They help juvenile bull trout navigate around Avista’s dams so that they can properly migrate and spawn. Key outcomes include:

  • Genetic studies
    Rapid response genetic identification techniques helped reestablish adult bull trout transport above Cabinet Gorge.
  • Habitat restoration
    We've implemented stream habitat restoration in 23 tributaries in lower Clark Fork– Lake Pend Oreille basin
  • Water quality improvement efforts
    We acquired fee titles and/or conservation easements on over 1,500 acres of important native salmonid stream corridor habitats.

Since 2010, we have developed and are implementing numerous work plans that guide our actions on the Spokane River and in the Coeur d'Alene Lake Basin. On an annual basis, we consult with state and federal fisheries agencies and interest groups to ensure our plans accomplish agreed upon actions.

View documents.

Avista cooperates with a variety of agencies to design and conduct a wide range of fisheries programs in the Coeur d’Alene Lake basin and on the Spokane River, in accordance with the Spokane River Project License. Our current programs include:

  • Monitoring Spokane River Flows
    We implement a minimum discharge flow from the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development to protect wild “redband” rainbow trout that live in the Spokane River in Idaho and Washington.
  • Trout Stocking
    Each year we stock the Upper Falls and Nine Mile Reservoirs with 6,000 and 9,000 hatchery raised rainbow trout (respectively) to provide urban fishing opportunities. You can identify hatchery trout by checking for their lack of adipose fin. If you fish, please check the current angling regulations first to help protect the native “redband” trout.
  • Wild Rainbow Trout Population Assessment
    In partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, we're conducting a population assessment of the fish that live in the Upper Falls Reservoir. The goal: determine if spilling water through the river's Upper Falls for aesthetic purposes is having an impact. We're also involved in a ten-year population assessment of ”redband” trout in the Spokane River between Monroe Street Dam and the Nine Mile Reservoir to better understand how flows relate to their spawning success.
  • Post Falls Downramping
    As required, we operate the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development in a manner that prevents the Spokane River from dropping more than four inches in an hour downstream of the dam. The purpose of this “down ramping” requirement is to protect ”redband” rainbow trout from being stranded in the Spokane River. We also conducted a two-year survey to evaluate fish habitat and the protection provided by this ramping rate.
  • Idaho Fisheries Plan
    Avista, together with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will implement fisheries protection measures in Coeur d’Alene Lake, and the St. Joe, Coeur d’Alene, and St. Maries Rivers and their tributaries over the term of the Project License. This program provides protection for native westslope cutthroat trout (Idaho’s state fish) and bull trout.

In-house, we retrofit poles to support nesting raptors and ensure our management practices do no harm. Our public programs educate and increase awareness for a better relationship with our feathered friends. Efforts include:

  • Monitoring bald eagle sites near our Clark Fork project
  • A management plan near our Spokane River project
  • Annual reporting; and Consultation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

You think the fight against weeds in your garden is tough? In the wild, it's native weeds vs. non-native weeds. And if the native weeds lose, we all lose. Our water quality, habitats for animals to thrive and recreation opportunities will suffer. Avista's efforts to control invasive weeds at public and community recreation sites and areas in our service territory and near our dams include:

  • Development of three Aquatic Weed Management Programs.
  • Creation of educational programs to inform the public.
  • Monitoring and mapping the distribution of invasive aquatic weeds. Management strategies to help control invasive aquatic weeds.

We've assigned a dedicated team of biologists, technicians and engineers to come up with ways to keep the habitat safe. Here's what they do.

  • Study rainbow trout, bull trout, kokanee, small and large-mouth bass in the Spokane and Clark Fork rivers and the associated tributaries, reservoirs and lakes.
  • Support programs that stock catchable rainbow trout, in area rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
  • Underwrite the Lake Trout Suppression Project in Pend Oreille Lake, which gives anglers incentives to catch lake trout.
  • Provide nesting platforms and nest relocation services to protect osprey and other raptors near our transmission and distribution lines and facilities.