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Archive for April, 2011

From KEA’s conservation advocate Adrienne Cronebaugh:

Last summer, Idaho Department of Lands granted Kootenai County an encroachment permit to install mooring buoys inside Cougar Bay and no-wake zone buoys at the mouth of the bay. The installation of those mooring buoys had been of great concern to the residents of Cougar Bay as well as the many individuals in the community that visit the bay for quiet recreation and wildlife viewing.

After listening to community concerns, Kootenai County Parks and Waterways agreed not to install mooring buoys in Cougar Bay and instead will begin looking for a more appropriate mooring location that can better serve the needs of the motorized boater. Meanwhile, Parks and Waterways will install the less controversial buoys to delineate the no-wake zone at the beginning of the Summer 2011 boating season.

Parks and Waterways Director Nick Snyder explained that, “The buoys are needed to caution motorized boaters, and to better define the line so that it can be legally enforced.” In support of Parks and Waterways, and to help protect the quiet and non-motorized recreation and wildlife values in the Bay, we’ve agreed to help raise a portion of the funds to install the no-wake zone buoys. (Please contact the office or click on the donate button below to contribute to this effort!)

Meanwhile, as for the pilings in Cougar Bay, it seems they will remain for now.

Back in October, the Cougar Bay Osprey Association had filed suit to force Idaho Department of Lands to accept their application for a permit to protect the pilings. IDL, meanwhile, had transferred the responsibility for the pilings to Kootenai County. However, recently, the Association settled the lawsuit so that IDL would, if necessary, take the Osprey Association application.

At this point, with Parks and Waterways on board, it looks as if it may be possible to protect the existing pilings without more hearings. We are currently working with Parks and Waterways and the Osprey Association to finalize the details on just how the preserved pilings will be maintained. We are also hoping to help Parks and Waterways raise grant money and in-kind donations for dealing with any hazard pilings and for future piling protection efforts.

We’re pleased that Parks and Waterways listened and responded to our concerns. Indeed, special thanks should go to Director Nick Snyder for working through the details with us. We look forward to future collaboration with both Kootenai County and Idaho Department of Lands in preserving Cougar Bay for wildlife habitat and quiet recreation.

Mostly, though, thanks to all of you that attended hearings, came to meetings, contributed money, wrote letters, and sent emails.  Together we do make a difference! Stay tuned for details on a celebration this summer.

 

 

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After hearing testimony on proposed amendments to the County’s site disturbance ordinance, the Kootenai County Commissioners put off a decision until they can reconvene on April 28th to deliberate further. The proposal, which purports to fix some flaws in the law, also creates a huge loophole in the regulations that govern shoreline development and construction activities. Of the dozen or so witnesses heard by the Commissioners, only one spoke in favor of the amendments.

All of the commissioners agreed that the ordinance needs some fixing, but they seemed to differ in the extent of the fixes they were willing to entertain at this point. On the one hand, Commissioner Jai Nelson agreed that the ordinance needed some fixing, but had serious reservations about the inherent subjectivity that would be built in to the new language. She noted that other shoreline protection codes elsewhere in the country are more protective, more flexible and can be more objectively applied. She indicated that on this ordinance, she’d prefer to defer to the “creative potential” of the new code-writing consultants just hired by the County to overhaul zoning and development codes. On the other hand, Commissioner Todd Tondee said he was convinced there was an interim need for a broad exception for larger development projects, and he was untroubled by the subjective decision-making the amendments would require until the new codes come on line. Commissioner Green signaled that he was “philosophically against Band-Aid approache[s]” to ordinances at this point, but he was also convinced that some immediate fixes were necessary, and he was worried that worried that the broad loophole exemption might be too subjective and maybe “more radical than I’m prepared to pursue at this time.”

In the end, the Commissioners decided they just needed more time to more carefully consider the proposal, more carefully consider the testimony, and essentially, decide how much of a Band-Aid to apply. Commissioner Nelson said that she didn’t want to be simply “shooting an arrow and then drawing a bull’s-eye around where it lands.”

 

 

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In our line of work, we often need to remind ourselves that not everyone knows what we’re talking about. When we advocate for cleanup of the Coeur d’Alene basin, for example, we sometimes forget that not everyone knows that it’s a big mess.

Recently, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and Idaho’s DEQ did a survey of what people know – and don’t know – about the Lake and its environmental problems. At noon on Thursday at the Iron Horse, Rebecca Stevens from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and Becki Witherow from DEQ will discuss the study.

We’ve seen a preview of presentation, and the results are fascinating. Most area residents know that the lake is indeed cleaner than it was in the 70s, but few understood that mining wastes remain a problem and few knew that metals are still entering the lake. Residents were generally aware of bank erosion problems from boat wakes, and they were generally aware that growth and development are related to water quality. But there was limited understanding in the general public about the Lake Management Plan and the details of the Coeur d’Alene basin cleanup. There was very little understanding of the roles of different agencies involved in the Lake’s water quality efforts. A good percentage, though, thought mandatory measures were appropriate to protect water quality.

So, in other words, our work is still cut out for us.

 

 

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