For the past 74 years, the Brilliant Headpond has been managed for hydro-electric generation purposes and has been referred to as an industrial commodity. The priority has been maximizing economic revenue while providing an energy source for residents and industry. However, Brilliant Headpond is now also recognized for its ecological assets including critical habitat for species of Special Concern such as Bull Trout, Columbia Sculpin and Umatilla Dace.
Brilliant Headpond is also recognized as important habitat for salmon reintroduction into the Upper Columbia River and Lower Kootenay River system. Salmon were a resource of sustenance for area First Nations communities until the completion of Grand Coulee Dam in 1942 which blocked the natural migration of anadromous salmon. The Brilliant Headpond Stewardship Collaborative was developed in 2015 to bring together area residents, governments, First Nations and industry in a collaborative effort to build and implement a stewardship plan that will ensure the area can be best managed for ecological, social, and cultural values, in addition to its economic assets. The Brilliant Headpond Fish Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Project will implement recommendations from the recently completed Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping (SHIM) project (Amec Foster Wheeler, 2018) and Ecological Literature Review (Amec Foster Wheeler, 2017). Recommendations include habitat restoration and enhancement in Brilliant Headpond and its tributaries; restoration of Bull Trout passage in identified tributaries; and improvement of Bull Trout populations. The project will also complete associated monitoring and assessments to evaluate the feasibility of habitat restoration and enhancement options prior to implementing on-the-ground activities, and identify potential habitat suitability for anadromous salmon reintroduction to the Lower Kootenay River.