7.1. ARCHAEOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE: There are few known sites of archaeological significance in Boundary County, none of which have been specifically identified through the effort of producing this comprehensive plan, despite many and wide ranging contacts. The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho holds many sites in Boundary County to be of historical and archaeological significance, however, they do not wish to identify these sites, believing secrecy to be the best protection for those sites. It is known that several “Chinese Ovens” built by Chinese laborers working on the railroads in the early 1900s exist on private property in the Eastport area, the most visible monuments remaining from the Spokane and International Railroad construction camps (see Architectural Significance, below).
7.2. HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:
7.2.1. Overview: The Selkirk Mountain Range and the region’s rivers and lakes have been the native homeland of the Kootenai Tribe for millennia. Other tribes also traveled through the region to hunt, fish, gather berries and trade with the Coeur d’Alene, Spokane and Bitterroot Salish tribes. Ktunaxa is the ancient aboriginal name for the Kootenai (also spelled Kootenay) Tribe, which means, “to travel by water.” In 1809, Welsh explorer David Thompson arrived in the Selkirks, seeing fur trapping areas for the North West Company and a route from Canada to the Pacific Ocean via the Columbia River system. Gold rush fever hit the Selkirks in 1864 as prospectors arrived at the northern shore of Lake Pend Oreille, then traveled north to the Wild Horse Creek area in the East Kootenays of Canada. Today, Highway 95 roughly follows this historic “Wild Horse Trail” that was the main freight road between Walla Walla and the minefield. This event prompted a need for an efficient means of crossing the Kootenai River. From 1883 to 1905, steamboats on the Kootenai River carried passengers and freight between Bonners Ferry and British Columbia. Settlers were attracted to the rich soils of the river valley, and lumber companies arrived seeking the region’s plentiful forests.
7.2.2. Areas: From a traveler’s perspective, telling the stories of the historical events spoken of in the overview is an opportunity to develop a “sense of place.” The character of the historic buildings in downtown Bonners Ferry give a living picture of what early life was like in this county. The Boundary County Museum has many fine photos and examples of equipment, clothing and artifacts to support these stories.
188.8.131.52. Ferry Landings: Bonners Ferry, Leona, Copeland, Porthill.
184.108.40.206. Early-day Trails: Wild Horse Trail before it was a freight road was a migratory and trading trail for the tribes. Fire Lookout trails established a system of trails in the Selkirks. Many of those trails today are recreational trails.
220.127.116.11. Kootenai Tribe: Boundary County is part of the Tribe’s ancestral land, and the region is steeped in tribal history and lore. The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho did not sign any treaties with the United States government, thus were not granted reservation lands. After a peaceful war against the United States in 1974, the Tribe was deeded 12.5 acres to serve as tribal headquarters.
18.104.22.168. Early Logging Camps: There are numerous sites in Boundary County used by early loggers in this area, though most remain unmarked and unheralded. It would serve well to identify these camps, recount logging stories and support those stories with early logging equipment and photos.
22.214.171.124. Early-day Mining: In the years since the gold rush, copper, silver, lead, zinc, galena and vermiculite have all played a role in the economy of Boundary County. While the once-thriving Continental Mine in northern Boundary County is the most significant, you can still find places in the county where people worked to extract ore … even pits carved in solid rock in remote parts of the county where solitary miners worked to ply their trade.
7.3. ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE: The following are listed in the National Register of Historic Places:
7.3.1. Boundary County Courthouse: Located on Kootenai Street in downtown Bonners Ferry, the courthouse was added to the national register in 1987. The art deco building was designed and built by Fletcher Martin.
7.3.2. Fry’s Trading Post: Also known as the Bonner-Fry Trading Post, this building was an important hub in early-day commerce in Boundary County. It was added to the national register in 1984, but subsequently burned to the ground.
7.3.3. Harvey Mountain Quarry: Added to the national register in 1978, the location of the quarry, used for millennia by native peoples, remains restricted in the interest of preservation.
7.3.4. North Side School: Located on Comanche Street, thousands of local students passed through its doors from 1900 through 1949. The building, added to the national register in 1992, was converted into a show-place home by Jim and Ruth Burkholder, and has more recently been converted into a bed and breakfast.
7.3.5. Snyder Guard Station Historical District: Located south of Eastport on Forest Service Road 211, the Snyder Guard Station was added to the national register in 1983.
7.3.6. Russell and Pearl Soderling House: Located on Madison Street in Bonners Ferry, the home was designed by Russell Soderling in 1925 and added to the national register in 1998.
7.3.7. Spokane & International Railroad Construction Camp: Located on the east side of U.S. 95 south of Eastport along the Spokane and International Railroad (now Union Pacific). This site was added to the national register in 1994.
7.3.8. U.S. Post Office: Located in downtown Bonners Ferry, the Bonners Ferry Post Office was built by Louis A. Simon in the 1920s as a federal post office, which it remains today. It was added to the national register in 1989.
7.4. ECOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The northern part of Idaho is classified as part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains ecoregion in a multi agency study published in 2004 by the Nature Conservancy. Boundary County contains two ecological sections of the ecoregion, divided along the Highway 95/Highway 1 corridor. The Okanogan Highlands section covers the western area of the county, and the Flathead Valley covers the eastern region of the county.
7.4.1. Okanogan Highlands Ecological Section: The Okanogan Highlands ecological section is a mountainous area in which glacial lakes, rivers and streams are prevalent. Rivers and streams are rapid flowing, particularly during spring runoff. The Pend Oreille River, Pend Oreille Lake, and Priest River are major water bodies. Creeks are prevalent, and many flow through glacial outwash and debris material within narrow valleys, and glacial lakes and wet meadows are also common. Rock strata are characterized by extreme metamorphism and deformation, and deposits of glacial till, outwash and debris cover much of the landscape. Communities are mostly small and rural, but populations and development in some municipalities have greatly increased in recent years. Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry and Post Falls are the largest population centers. Summer residences are common at lakes and large river systems. Forestry, livestock grazing, mining and localized agriculture are principal land uses. Participation in outdoor recreation is rapidly increasing.
7.4.2. Flathead Valley Ecological Section: The Flathead Valley ecological section includes the Purcell and Cabinet Mountains as the dominant landforms. Perennial streams are common, as well as small lakes, bogs and wetlands. The Kootenai River and the Clark Fork River are major water bodies that pass through. Soils are generally moderately deep to deep with loamy to sandy textures. Most of the soil contains volcanic ash. Communities are small and sparsely distributed. Timber harvest and recreation are important land uses, and livestock grazing and farming occur in some valley areas.
7.4.3. Species of Conservation Need: Species of greatest conservation need in the Okanogan Highlands and the Flathead Valley ecological sections include:
126.96.36.199. Fishes: White sturgeon, lake chub, westslope cutthroat trout, inland redband trout, kokanee, whitefish, bull trout and burbot.
188.8.131.52. Amphibians: Northern leopard frog, wood frog and Coeur d’Alene salamander.
184.108.40.206. Reptiles: Northern alligator lizard.
220.127.116.11. Birds: Northern pintail, lesser scaup, harlequin duck, hooded merganser, common loon, red-necked grebe, western grebe, bald eagle, merlin, peregrine falcon, upland sandpiper, long billed curlew, Wilson’s phalarope, Forster’s tern, black tern, flammulated owl, short-eared owl, boreal owl, black swift, Lewis’s woodpecker, white-headed woodpecker, American three-toed woodpecker, pygmy nuthatch, white-winged crossbill.
18.104.22.168. Mammals: Pygmy shrew, Merriam’s shrew, fringed myotis, Townsend’s big-eared rat, red-tailed chipmunk, northern bog lemming, gray wolf, grizzly or brown bear, fisher, wolverine, Canada lynx and mountain goat.
22.214.171.124. Gastropods: Fir pinwheel, pygmy slug, and sheathed slug.
126.96.36.199. Insects: Stonefly.
7.4.4. Roadless Areas: Inventoried roadless areas in Boundary County include the Salmo-Priest #981 area surrounding upper Priest River, Continental Mountain #153, Saddle Mountain #154, Selkirk #125 (Long Canyon area), Kootenai Peak #126, White Mountain #127, Willard-Lake Estelle #173, Roberts #691, Katka Peak #157, Hellroaring #128, and Buckhorn Ridge #661. Portions of the Salmo Priest and Selkirk roadless areas are currently recommended for wilderness designation in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest plan.
7.4.5. Research Natural Areas: Current research natural areas include the area near Boulder Mountain, the area around West Fork Cabin and the area around Snowy Top.
7.4.6. Kootenai River Valley: The Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative (KVRI) was formed under a Joint Powers Agreement between the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the City of Bonners Ferry and Boundary County in October, 2001. The tribe, city and county are working together to address resource issues affecting those in the Lower Kootenai Sub-Basin. The KVRI is a diverse, community-wide group appointed to facilitate this process. The intent is that this historic and new approach will guide how we, as a community, respond to opportunities such as Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) planning, development of a wetland conservation strategy, recovery of the lower Kootenai River burbot, the Corps of Engineers EIS related to operation of the Libby Dam and other issues as they become timely or appropriate.
7.4.7. Riparian Areas:
188.8.131.52. Riparian habitat encompasses the area beginning at the ordinary high water line and extends to that portion of the terrestrial landscape that directly influences the aquatic ecosystem by providing shade, fine or large woody material, nutrients, organic and inorganic debris, terrestrial insects, or habitat for riparian-associated wildlife. It includes the entire extent of the floodplain because that area significantly influences and is influenced by the stream system during flood events. The riparian habitat area encompasses the entire extent of vegetation adapted to wet conditions as well as adjacent upland plant communities that directly influence the stream system.
184.108.40.206. The terms riparian habitat, riparian area, riparian ecosystem and riparian corridor are sometimes used interchangeably, and all refer to the ecologically defined area adjacent to streams. Riparian vegetation refers specifically to plant communities that are adapted to wet conditions, are distinct from wetland communities and occur immediately adjacent to aquatic systems. The terms riparian zone and riparian buffer refer to administrative or management areas associated with riparian habitat.
220.127.116.11. Riparian habitat along streams and shorelines involves a relatively narrow strip of land that usually supports a disproportionately high density and diversity of fish and wildlife relative to other habitats. It also has important social values for county residents, to include water purification, flood control, recreation and aesthetics. Riparian habitats are also fragile and sensitive to both natural and man-made changes.
7.5. WILDLIFE SIGNIFICANCE:
7.5.1. Hatcheries: The Kootenai Tribal Sturgeon Hatchery plays a major role in the recovery of the white sturgeon species indigenous to the Kootenai River. The hatchery was built in the spring of 1991 as an experimental facility to help enhance the sturgeon population. Recent improvements at the hatchery, along with a growing understanding on the culture of the white sturgeon, have contributed greatly. The hatchery raises one- and two-year-old sturgeon for release into the Kootenai River as directed under research objectives. Funding is provided by the Bonneville Power Administration under the Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Act of 1980. The hatchery is located on property owned by the Kootenai Tribe three miles west of Bonners Ferry. Visitors are welcome between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For directions or to arrange a tour, people can call (208) 267-7082. Hatchery personnel take pride in the upkeep of the hatchery, cleaning the tanks and feeding the fish daily. The spawning process takes place between April and June, which is a busy time for hatchery personnel. In addition to white sturgeon, rainbow trout are also raised at the hatchery, and used as food for adult sturgeon brought into the hatchery for spawning.
7.5.2. Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge: The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is located five miles west of Bonners Ferry. The 2,774-acre refuge was established in 1965, primarily to provide important habitat and a resting area for migratory waterfowl. The refuge is comprised of a wide variety of habitat types, including wetlands, meadows, riparian forests and cultivated agricultural fields for producing valuable wildlife food crops. These habitats are interspersed in the valley bottom adjacent to the west bank of the Kootenai River. Wetlands include open-water ponds, seasonal cattail-bulrush marshes, tree-lined ponds and rushing creeks. The western portion of the refuge ascends the foothills of the scenic Selkirk Mountains, which consist of dense stands of coniferous trees and tranquil riparian forests. Over 300 different species of wildlife can be found on the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, indicating the richness and diversity this area holds. The refuge not only serves as a valuable habitat for resident and migratory waterfowl, but provides a nice stopping point for visitors to get out and enjoy some of the vast natural beauty Boundary County has to offer. The refuge welcomes approximately 20,000 visitors per year, bringing together people from all nationalities and backgrounds for the enjoyment of our Nation’s natural wildlife resources.
7.5.3. McArthur Lake Wildlife Management Area: The McArthur Lake WMA is adjacent to U.S. 95 approximately 13 miles south of Bonners Ferry near the Boundary/Bonner county line. There are about 1,207 acres in the WMA, of which approximately 600 consists of the McArthur Lake reservoir. While the majority lies in Boundary County, a small part extends into Bonner County. The McArthur Lake WMA was one of Idaho’s first land purchases using Pittman-Robertson funding. The WMA was acquired to provide waterfowl breeding, nesting and summer/fall use areas to replace marshlands converted to farmland in the nearby Kootenai River Valley. An important aspect of the WMA is providing the public with opportunities for waterfowl and big game hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing, and assuring that the public will be able to enjoy these activities for generations to come. McArthur Lake WMA provides excellent Canada goose nesting habitat. Elevated nesting platforms are use and ground nesting also occurs. Band recovery information indicates that hunters in seven western states and two Canadian provinces take McArthur lake geese. Thirteen species of duck are known to breed at McArthur Lake, and up to 6,000 migratory ducks visit the area each spring and fall. Ruffed grouse, common snipe, mourning doves and snowshoe hares are common, although not abundant game species on the WMA. American coots breed and nest on the WMA and occasionally number over 1,000 during migration. Merriam’s turkeys are frequent visitors. White tailed deer are abundant on the WMA year-around. Moose are also common residents, mostly observable in June, when they feed daily on the lake’s aquatic vegetation. Cow moose with calves are commonly seen in the summer, and black bear are frequent visitors in the spring, feeding in wetland habitat on the southwest portion of the WMA. Elk use the WMA infrequently, mostly during winter, and mule deer and mountain lion rarely visit. A pair of bald eagles has nested on the WMA continuously since 1988, and in seven of the last ten years they’ve successfully fledged young. Other nesting non-game birds include pied-billed and red-necked grebes, Virginia rails, black terms, osprey and red-tailed hawks, along with a diverse array of other migrant and resident birds.
7.5.4. Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area: The 1,405-acres of the Boundary Creek WMA were acquired in 1999 using funds provided by the sale of hunting licenses, tags and state waterfowl stamps, and by the Bonneville Power Administration. The WMA is managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to develop wildlife and fish habitat and to provide public access for hunting, fishing and other recreational pursuits. Development activities focus on restoring historic wetlands, promoting native vegetative communities and promoting compatible public recreation. Bringing the property into public ownership assures public access previously unavailable when the property was under private ownership. Despite many decades of grazing, farming and occasional logging, the WMA continues to support significant wildlife resources. These include big game, upland game, waterfowl, furbearers and non-game species. The gray wolf, the Kootenai River white sturgeon, the bald eagle, grizzly bear, bull trout and Canada lynx are all listed as endangered species, and all occur on the WMA or in close proximity. The WMA lies at the foot of the Selkirk Mountains adjacent to the Kootenai River floodplain. Consequently, wildlife species with large home ranges can seasonally capitalize on the food and cover resources the WMA provides. The WMA and the large, undeveloped lands surrounding it seasonally support all species of big game animals found in northern Idaho with the exception of mountain goats. Most wildlife use is associated with the relatively undeveloped forested habitat located on the western edge of the WMA and between the dikes that contain Boundary Creek. The interior portions of the former croplands are sparsely used by wildlife, but the edges near forested cover are used heavily.
7.6. SCENIC SIGNIFICANCE:
7.6.1. Scenic Byways: Highway 95 from Sandpoint north through Bonners Ferry to Copeland and Highway 1 from Copeland to the International border at Porthill was first designated a State Scenic Byway, called the “Wild Horse Trail” in January, 2004, and on September 22, 2005, the International Selkirk Loop organization was successful in demonstrating the scenic and recreational significance of the region through which these highways traverse, having the roadway federally-designated an All-American Road under the National Scenic Byways Program. In order to attain this designation, a Corridor Management Plan was developed and finalized in June, 2005, adopting the U.S. Forest Service’s Scenery Management System as its criteria for identifying what encompassed the corridor, essentially using the landscape as seen from the travelways and use areas of interest or importance to the traveling public.
7.6.2. Scenic Pull Outs: The following are areas identified by the Selkirk Scenic Loop for future improvements along the corridor:
18.104.22.168.US 95, MP 493.3: McArthur Lake Wildlife Management Area: Highway 95 is to be realigned in 2010 to take out the 45-mile-per-hour curve. At that time, significant visitor improvements, highway safety and wildlife crossings will be considered.
22.214.171.124.US 95, MP 503.7: Historic and Scenic Pullout overlooking Golf Course: It is recommended that these signs be relocated to be near the new Visitor’s Center. Lack of adequate space and no left turn lane were cited as reasons.
126.96.36.199.US 95/Hwy 1, MP 4.2: Scenic pull out. Plans call for adding signage, interpretation and orientation.
188.8.131.52.Hwy 1, MP 11: Scenic pull out, Porthill border crossing. Plans including adding interpretive signage.
7.6.3. Key scenic assets along the Boundary County Corridor:
184.108.40.206. Selkirk Mountain Range
220.127.116.11. Kootenai River
18.104.22.168. McArthur Wildlife Management Area
22.214.171.124. Purcell Mountain Range
126.96.36.199. Copper Creek Falls
188.8.131.52. Snow Creek & Myrtle Creek Falls
184.108.40.206. Rural nature of the region.
7.7. State Scenic Byway Sign Policy: The State Scenic Byway sign policy is coordinated by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Bureau of Land Management in order to ensure consistency in signs and compliance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). ITD and the Idaho Legislature approved an exception to the MUTCD in 2001 to allow for a multi-colored format on scenic byway signs. Having a federally designated National Scenic Byway comes with no regulation other than the prohibition of outdoor advertising (billboards) outside of city limits. ITD cannot regulate this provision without a clear set of standards.
Chapter 8, Recreation a