Burbot Restoration in the Kootenai River Basin: Using Agency, Tribal, and Community Collaboration to Develop and Implement a Conservation Strategy
Susan C. Ireland and Patrick N. Perry
Abstract.—Native burbot Lota lota in the transboundary Kootenai basin (spelled Kootenay in Canada) were once abundant and provided an important subsistence, social, sport, and commercial fishery for people in the states of Idaho and Montana, USA and the province of British Columbia, Canada. However, due to changes in the ecosystem over the last half century (dam and levee construction, habitat alteration, nutrient loss, and fish community composition shift), the burbot population in the Kootenai basin collapsed. Through the Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho facilitated a collaborative process to prepare and implement a conservation strategy to restore the burbot population. The Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative includes representation from the county, municipal, and tribal governments, as well as a diverse group of individuals representing business, agricultural, social, cultural, and conservation interests and federal and state agency participants. By building consensus through the development of the conservation strategy, actions have been identified and agreed upon that will guide rehabilitation of the burbot population and the habitat upon which it depends, while maintaining a strong level of community support.