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Man-Made Dam on Lolo Creek Creates Obstruction for Chinook Salmon

Photograph provided by Nez Perce Tribal Fisheries staff of JJ's dam

KAMIAH – On August 18, 2022 reports of a man-made dam on Lolo Creek were forwarded to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The initial information stated a large man-made dam was located under the bridge that crosses Lolo Creek to Forest Road 5114 near Lolo Campground. Pictures from the Nez Perce Tribal Fisheries staff showed the dam was constructed of large rocks, tarp, and green cut trees lashed together with rope.

Photograph provided by Nez Perce Tribal Fisheries staff of man-made dam on Lolo Creek

In a statement from the Nez Perce Tribe,

“The Nez Perce Tribe Department of Fisheries Resources Management has been working in the Clearwater Basin, including Lolo Creek for over 30 years with efforts to restore anadromous fish into the basin. Efforts include releases of steelhead and Chinook (releasing eggs, smolts, and adults) into Lolo Creek and other Clearwater Basin streams in attempts to restore those fish back to healthy and harvestable numbers. So far in 2022, the Tribe has outplanted a total of 2,047 chinook adults into Lolo, Crooked, Newsome, Mill, and American rivers. Outplants of adults provide additional opportunities for fish to spawn in nature and they need free-flowing access to spawning areas, and artificial dams, and human-caused blockages drastically limit these fish in certain areas. The tribe coordinates with many Federal, State, and local entities as we all work together towards this common goal and very much appreciate the public’s help with this lofty endeavor.”

With the help of Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officers, Forest Service Law Enforcement, Nez Perce Tribal Fisheries staff, and some concerned citizens, the dam was removed and the stream was restored for Chinook salmon to continue their migratory path to spawn.

Photograph provided by Nez Perce Tribal Fisheries staff of man-made dam on Lolo Creek

Idaho Fish and Game wants to remind recreationists that while building a dam to create a pool may be a great spot to relax, there are laws prohibiting the creation of any obstruction which restricts the free and uninterrupted passage of fish in any stream.

Due to the size of this dam and its impacts on Chinook salmon migration, Conservation Officers and Forest Service LEOs are currently seeking assistance from the public on who may have been involved in its construction. Anyone with information on the construction of “JJ’s Dam Dam” is asked to call Idaho Fish and Game’s wildlife crimes hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Callers with information can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward if a citation is issued.