Wednesday September 28, 2022

The Lewiston Tribune

Part of a yearslong project that is adding 11 miles of passing lanes to U.S. Highway 95 between Culdesac and Winchester was temporarily halted last month following an incident that killed dozens of protected steelhead in Lapwai Creek.

According to Idaho Transportation Department spokesperson Aubrey Spence, contractor Knife River was excavating on Aug. 29 in preparation of placing a retaining wall adjacent to Lapwai Creek.

The digging caused water in one of the creek’s forks to sink and flow below ground. About 80 wild, juvenile steelhead in the area were left without adequate flows and perished.

Steelhead in the creek are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The transportation department has a permit allowing the work associated with the project to incidentally harm a small number of wild steelhead. But the steelhead that died following the incident exceeded the mortality allowed by the permit issued by NOAA Fisheries.

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