High water at Canyon Ferry Reservoir is eroding the shoreline on Cemetery Island and Cave Point, prompting the Bureau of Reclamation to award $729,471 for bank stabilization work.

S&K Environmental of Arlee will probably begin hauling equipment to the sites this fall, but not do the actual stabilization work until the reservoir’s water level is at its lowest point next spring, according to Shawn Bryant, acting facility manager at Canyon Ferry for the Bureau of Reclamation.

“The contract just got awarded about a week and a half ago, so we haven’t had a preconstruction meeting with the contractor yet,” Bryant said. “But we’ll base part of the work on reservoir levels; it has to be low enough to get the toe of that stabilization in at the right elevation, and typically the lowest level is in March or April. But at the Cemetery Island site, they may want to stage the materials there this year.”

Bryant noted that high water in 2009, 2010 and 2011 raised the reservoir levels so much that water was in the flood pool for sustained periods of time. That accelerated the erosion of about 450 feet of shoreline on the east and northeast side of Cemetery Island, which is the closest point to where bodies are interred.

He anticipates the contractor will use barges to bring materials to the island.

“We’re using a bio-engineered approach there,” Bryant said. “There will be some rock riprapped to the shore and some pretty big logs placed in a configuration that helps stabilize it. But it will look fairly natural; we’ll also incorporate vegetation like willows and natural grasses.”

About 600 to 700 feet of shoreline on Cave Point, which is southeast of Kim’s Marina and home to a recently constructed picnic shelter, is being eaten away by waves and high water, he added.

“Because of the prevailing winds across the long stretch of the reservoir, the waves really hammered that point,” Bryant said. “One of the reasons for doing the stabilization is to protect that shelter.”

He said the work at Cave Point will be similar to what’s being done at Cemetery Island, with riprap at the lowest elevation, transitioning into engineered log jams and then vegetation.

“It’s a natural and sustainable approach,” Bryant added.

Reporter Eve Byron: 447-4076 or eve.byron@helenair.com

Follow Eve on Twitter@IR_EveByron

(1) comment


This is interesting. Due to the heavy boat use there is substancial shoreline errosion at Hauser Lake as well. The raparian area is being washed into the lake along the shore line in the Prickley Pear Arm. You can see this by the large trees that have fallen into the lake over the last 5 years or so and many more are about to fall in. Almost every place on the lake is losing shorline to boat wakes. Some of those waves are nearly 3 feet high as they slam into the shore. The narrow area of Pirckley Pear arm, sometimes called the Causeway Arm ,is especially getting hit hard. There is one strech of the causeway arm that is only 450 feet wide and is heavely used by all water craft. It is a very congested location and at times is very dangerous for boaters. On busy days the water becomes turbid and the water is clouded by the boat activities. Not only is there errosion but the wildlife that live there are being affected by lack of cover as well as harrasment by boaters, especially in the spring when young water foul are hatching in the area. Hope someone will take note to save the shore line in Hauser as well.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.