Each year, more than 100,000 people visit this area. On a typical summer weekend, tens of thousands of people are recreating in the Koocanusa.
Please help conserve the natural beauty, diverse ecosystems, fish, wildlife and the many wild spaces that are important to all of us.
Our Natural Environment
The Koocanusa area is home to many fish and wildlife species that rely on the area’s grasslands, wetlands, streams, and lakes for their survival. This area also provides vital winter range for elk and deer.
Please be aware that many local species such as badgers, painted turtles and long-billed curlews are at-risk and vulnerable to human actions. Invasive plants and animals can further degrade important habitat in the Koocanusa area.
The Koocanusa area is within the Ktunaxa Nation traditional territory. For more than 10,000 years Ktunaxa people have lived in this area and used it for hunting and cultural purposes. In the late 1800s forestry, mining and ranching attracted settlers to the area.
The Kootenay River is part of the Columbia River system. Beginning in Kootenay National Park, the Kootenay River flows south through the Rocky Mountain trench into the United States, then it flows back into Canada at Creston, and joins the Columbia River at Castlegar.
Construction of the Libby Dam in Montana created the 144-km-long Koocanusa Reservoir, which stretches north to Wardner, BC. About 67 kilometres of the reservoir is in Canada. In creating the reservoir numerous ranches, homesteads and communities were flooded. Water levels in the reservoir fluctuate by 25 metres in an average year, but can fluctuate by up to 52 metres. Koocanusa Reservoir gets its name from the Kootenay River, Canada and the U.S.A. (koo-can-usa).
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In 2014, MLA Bill Bennett and Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson initiated the Koocanusa Recreation Steering Committee (KRSC) to help address a range of issues related to tourism and recreation activities on Crown land in the Koocanusa area.
The KRSC, a partnership between the Province of B.C., Ktunaxa National Council, Tobacco Plains Indian Band, Regional District of East Kootenay and Columbia Basin Trust, commissioned a report to identify Crown Land recreational issues and recommendations to reduce the most significant impacts.
The KRSC supports Crown Land recreation that maintains the economic value, ecological integrity and aesthetic appeal of the Koocanusa area for current and future users.