This section of the Lochsa River parallels highway 12 and is most known for its fast moving white water and its unaltered, free-flowing state. It is also a very popular spot for whitewater rafting during the snowmelt. The Lochsa River is bordered by mixed conifer forest and rocky outcroppings. The river is protected as a National Wild and Scenic River and, aside from the presence of highway 12, is thought to be in much the same state as when Lewis and Clark came by in 1805. The river is highly protected by its National Wild and Scenic River designation and the U.S. Forest Service's anadromous fish habitat and watershed conservation strategy.

Ornithological Summary

The Lochsa River is considered an important breeding stream, or a bellwether stream, for Harlequin Ducks in Idaho. It maintains the highest numbers of breeding pairs in the state. The river has been monitored for breeding pairs of Harlequin Ducks since 1995. The upper portions of the Lochsa river are largely surrounded by wilderness and have been designated a national wild and scenic river. This means that the river runs free and is mostly unchanged from its natural state. The area is also a good birding spot for Harlequins, grouse, Pileated and Hairy woodpeckers, Steller?s and Gray Jays, Winter Wren, Varied Thrush, Western Tanager, Rufous and Calliope Hummingbirds, Spotted Sandpiper, Bald Eagle (winter), Common Mergansers, Northern Waterthrush, Ring-necked Duck (spring), Vaux?s Swift, Warbling and Cassin?s Vireos, Townsends, MacGillivray?s and Yellow warblers, Willow Flycatcher, American Redstart, Pine Siskin, and Cedar Waxwing.

Conservation Issues

Whitewater rafting is very popular on the river from late spring to early summer. This could potentially disturb the Harlequin Ducks, although there is no data on this. Most rafting occurs just below the majority of Harlequin Duck sightings. However, as ?extreme? rafting and kayaking interests increase, the potential for conflicts with nesting ducks may grow. Forest Service biologists are aware of this potential concern, and hope that both Harlequins and rafters can enjoy the river.


Low elevation mixed conifer forest, some high elevation mixed conifer. The Lochsa is known for its whitewater ? especially in early spring.

Land Use

Whitewater rafting and fisheries research/conservation

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