Lake Cascade (formerly Cascade Reservoir) is a man-made reservoir formed by a dam on the North Fork Payette River in 1948. It has relatively shallow water, controlled for irrigation water, flood control, and hydro-power. Water levels recede throughout summer and fall to meet these needs. The reservoir supports a large, popular fishery (yellow perch, trout, salmon, whitefish), and numerous developed and dispersed recreation sites. It is an important staging area for shorebirds and important nesting area for waterfowl, colonial waterbirds, and raptors (Bald Eagles and Osprey). A wide variety of other wildlife inhabit associated uplands, including deer, elk, coyote, fox, bats, and passerine birds.

Ornithological Summary

This site is extremely important for breeding Western Grebes, with at least 1400 birds nesting here, representing up to 3% of the world?s population for this species. Bald Eagles and Osprey have nested here for many years, and have been monitored annually since the late 1970?s. American White Pelicans are observed here in summer, although not nesting as of yet. Great Gray Owls have a nest adjacent to the Gold Fork Arm of the reservoir. Common Loons occur on the reservoir but are not known to nest. Peregrine Falcons have also been observed foraging over the wetlands. This site supports large numbers and diversity of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds each year.

Conservation Issues

Water quality is a persistent problem, evidenced by noxious algal blooms, aquatic weeds, and fish kills. High nutrient influx and sedimentation from shoreline erosion are primary sources of pollution. As a result, DEQ instituted a Total Maximum Daily Limit (TMDL) in 1998 to address water quality, and BOR constructed 68 acres of wetlands to treat water flowing into the reservoir from tributaries. Soil erosion along the east shores is also a persistent problem, which is being addressed by terminating cattle grazing allotments along the shoreline and erecting fences to reduce phosphorus influx from runoff. Potential disturbance to nesting waterbirds and waterfowl looms as Tamarack Resort develops infrastructure and recreational programs (kayak tours, marina) and draws increased use to BOR and USFS developed recreation sites. At this time, there has been no known effort to combat this growing issue.


Multiple private owners around edge of reservoir, with specific note of Tamarack Resort.


Shallow freshwater ?lake? (reservoir) that freezes during winter, bounded to west by the West Mountain Range (7.000-7.800 ft. elevation). Four major tributaries enter from northeast: Lake Fork Creek, Gold Fork River, Boulder Creek, and Willow Creek. Geologically, it is located near the transition of the Columbia-Snake Intermountain Province and the Northern Rocky Mountains, and sits along the Long Valley Fault System (Western Idaho Fault Zone). Wetland plants include rushes, sedges, wetland and upland grasses, cattails, and willows.

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