For Immediate Release: Friday, October 27, 2023
Brad Smith, North Idaho Director, Idaho Conservation League, (208) 318-5807
Karissa Huntsman, North Idaho Community Engagement Assistant, Idaho Conservation League, (208) 318-5813
Despite local community opposition and impacts to imperiled fish, Idaho Department of Lands approves permit for Idaho Club marina
SANDPOINT, ID – On Friday, October 27, Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) Director, Dustin T. Miller approved The Idaho Club’s application for a lake bed encroachment permit, despite its inevitable negative impacts to bull trout and local community opposition.
In June 2023, The Idaho Club submitted an application to build a 105-slip marina and luxury residential development at the mouth of Trestle Creek. This development has raised concerns among the Idaho Conservation League (ICL) and numerous members of the community. More than 1,300 public comments were submitted in opposition to the proposed development, and hundreds of individuals attended an IDL public hearing on September 6 to express their objections.
“It’s disappointing that the Idaho Department of Lands ignored public concerns about the project,” said Brad Smith, North Idaho Director of ICL. “There is also evidence in the record that substantiates our concerns about the impact the project will have on Trestle Creek and bull trout.”
Both The Idaho Club and IDL claim that the marina will not harm bull trout. However, an email in the administrative record from the Assistant State Supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to IDL states, “There is a history of diminishing proportion of redds starting in 2004. For this reason, the Service is concerned that any additional adverse impacts to bull trout and their designated critical habitat in the vicinity of Trestle Creek may further reduce spawning and rearing activity. The proposed project, as described in the previous [biological assessment], was likely to adversely affect bull trout.”
The decision also sets a dangerous precedent with regard to Idaho’s rules concerning community docks. Community docks are intended for “adjacent littoral owners” – not for users that live several miles away. The decision to approve a community dock means that The Idaho Club will not have to make at least fifty percent of the boat slips available to members of the public, as is normally required under the rules for commercial marinas. Instead, all of the slips will be limited to residents of The Idaho Club.
Any aggrieved parties who attended the public hearing held on Sept. 6th have a right to appeal the decision within 30 days of the notice.
“We are carefully reviewing the administrative record to see if we can take legal action,” continued Smith. “We want to do what we can to protect all that is special about Trestle Creek and recover bull trout populations.”
In addition to the lakebed encroachment permit, The Idaho Club will be required to secure multiple additional permits from different authorities, including a dredge and fill permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, a stream alteration permit from the Idaho Department of Water Resources, and a new planned unit development permit from Bonner County. These additional permitting processes will bring more opportunities for the public to weigh in. We encourage the public to stay engaged in this important issue.
Unchecked development is the top threat to North Idaho’s lakes and waterways, and ICL will continue to speak up for these places that are so worthy of protection.