In a stunning decision, the Idaho Department of Lands has approved a proposal by Kootenai County Parks and Waterways to locate moorage buoys for motorized boats in Cougar Bay. We are reviewing the decision here at KEA, but on initial reading, we are deeply concerned.
The IDL decision reduced the number of moorage buoys from the 12 in the original proposal to three. The IDL decision also sets conditions on the permit such that there will be a limit to the number of boats per buoy in order to prevent movement of the anchor. IDL expressed continued support for a no wake zone in the Bay, but the IDL decision did not explicitly approve the 15 marker buoys in the proposal.
On one hand, the decision states that “if the usage of the mooring buoys results in conflicts with the conservation or non-motorized use of Cougar Bay, then this permit may be subject to revocation.” But on the other, the decision also states that “If these mooring buoys appear to be compatible with other uses of Cougar Bay, then the Applicant may apply for more in the future.”
The IDL decision notes that the proposal will require removal of pilings in the permit area, and emphasized that piling removal was not part of this particular decision. Such removal would require a much more detailed evaluation including consideration of the contaminated lakebed sediments. Ominously, the permit sets a three-year time limit for the piling removal, or else the moorage permit will expire.
We are saddened by this decision, and we are likely to have more on this soon. Our first thought, though, we’d urge Kootenai County Parks and Waterways to rethink their proposal. There is likely to be a more comprehensive solution to the piling problem and Bay protection. Plopping three party buoys in quiet Cougar Bay is not a positive contribution.