Stream flowing from Lower Ball Lake in the Selkirk Mountains west of Bonners Ferry.
Stream flowing from Lower Ball Lake in the Selkirk Mountains.

The present location of Bonners Ferry was first utilized by the white man as a camping site in 1859. The present city of Bonners Ferry was created in 1899. It united the towns of Fry and Eatonville. Bonners Ferry became the seat of Boundary County in 1915 when it was separated from Bonner County. It is the only county in the United States that is bounded by two states and a foreign country.

Bonners Ferry Ranger District lies within the Kaniksu National Forest. The word "Kaniksu" means "black robes" in the language use by the Kalispell Indians. They were referring to the habits worn by the Jesuit Priests that helped settle this area of Idaho.

So, the Kaniksu was finally here to stay - well, yes and no. In June of 1973, the Forest Service consolidated the Kaniksu, Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe National Forests under the administrative title "Idaho Panhandle National Forests." So legally, the area is still the Kaniksu, but from a practical point of view they call us the "Panhandle."

The Bonners Ferry Ranger District is heavily timbered land, including western red cedar, hemlock, larch, whitepine and subalpine fir, with an understory of serviceberry, huckleberry, dogwood, bunchberry, ninebark, oceanspray, twinflower, and fairybells.

Big game species are white-tailed deer, mule deer, and black bear. Elk, moose, mountain goat, big horned sheep, cougar, lynx and bobcat are also found. The area is also the home of two very special species; the woodland caribou and the grizzly bear. These two animals have very special status under law, The Endangered Species Act. The Selkirk Mountains are the last home in the Continental United States of the Endangered woodland caribou. The Threatened grizzly bear also finds refuge in the high peaks there, as well as other areas of the district.

There are a multitude of varied bird species for the bird watcher including osprey, hawk, eagle, piliated woodpecker and many varieties of owl. The principal upland game birds are blue grouse, Franklin grouse and ruffed grouse, duck, and geese. There are 271 miles of streams and 297 acres of lakes in the district, furnishing habitat for considerable fish and waterfowl, including rainbow and brook trout, sturgeon, whitefish, bass and salmon.