Existing site drainage at the Cougar Bay Preserve before wetlands improvement.

Status: Ongoing


The project site is located on the 240-acre Nature Conservancy’s Cougar Bay Preserve just south of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in Kootenai County. The site is just east of Highway 95 where Cougar Creek enters Coeur d’Alene Lake.


Cougar Creek and associated wetlands at Cougar Bay have historically been channelized and altered for agricultural purposes. Currently, the ecological function and habitat values of both the stream channel and associated wetlands are very limited. The preserve is a popular area for hiking and bird-watching. The Nature Conservancy reports 34 rare animal species are known to use the site, including 27 bird species. The site is not contaminated by mine waste and has good potential to provide healthy feeding habitats for waterfowl.


The project will be implemented over two or more years and has three main components:

  1. Reconstructing portions of Cougar Creek to recreate a natural stream channel pattern through the wetlands. The channel will be designed to allow frequent overflow of water into the wetlands. Raised mounded areas and ponds will be constructed during channel excavation to facilitate diversity in habitat, vegetation and water depth.
  2. Controlling invasive reed canary grass and planting a variety of native riparian vegetation, particularly trees and shrubs.
  3. Redirecting the flow from where Cougar Creek has been diverted into a ditch into the newly constructed channel. The ditch will initially be left in place to allow the option to keep water out of the reconstructed channel until it is ready to accommodate high flows. The ditch will accommodate high flows until riparian vegetation has become established and controlled, partial flows can be released into the reconstructed channel without causing excessive scour and stream bank erosion. Buried logs will also be installed in the ditch to provide vertical stability and prevent channel incision.


Cougar Bay wetlands restoration will enhance habitat for waterfowl and fish, improve water quality in Cougar Creek and Coeur d’Alene Lake, and restore native riparian vegetation along a properly functioning wetland channel.


Doug Evans, Natural Resource Specialist
Coeur d'Alene Field Office
Bureau of Land Management
(208) 769-5020


  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Partners

  • The Nature Conservancy owns the Cougar Bay Preserve for environmental conservation purposes, and is a key partner in the project.
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