For Immediate Release: Thursday, August 25, 2022
Brad Smith, Idaho Conservation League, North Idaho Director, (208) 345-6933 x 403
Abby Urbanek, Idaho Conservation League, Communications Manager, (208) 345-6933 x 214
Whitney Palmer, Center for Biological Diversity, (208) 597-4791
Lawsuit challenges marina, housing development on Idaho’s Lake Pend Oreille
Lakeside development severely threatens bull trout
SANDPOINT, ID – The Center for Biological Diversity and Idaho Conservation League filed suit today against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Army Corps of Engineers for approving the Idaho Club’s lakeside marina and housing development along Lake Pend Oreille near Trestle Creek. The creek is one of the most important spawning streams for federally protected bull trout in the Pacific Northwest.
“I’m highly concerned about this development’s threats to bull trout, Trestle Creek and Lake Pend Oreille,” said Whitney Palmer, a Sandpoint-based staffer for the Center. “It’s disappointing that two federal agencies authorized this incredibly destructive project. Bull trout are resilient fish, but even they can’t withstand the massive habitat destruction and increased boat traffic this project will bring near the mouth of Trestle Creek.”
The private development was first permitted in 2009 and is part of the Idaho Club golf course. It includes two new developments — one located just north of the mouth of Trestle Creek and one to the south — a number of single-family estates, two marinas, a widened concrete boat ramp, 124 boat slips, a sewage pump, and a parking lot. It will also create a new private sandy beach along the lakeshore.
The project will drastically reconfigure the shoreline along a scenic stretch of Lake Pend Oreille near Hope, Idaho. The property is a designated wetland and floodplain, and it is designated as critical habitat for the threatened trout. In addition to degrading important habitat, the Idaho Club project will wound, capture, and kill bull trout.
It will also reroute the North Branch of Trestle Creek, which connects the lake to Trestle Creek approximately one mile upstream, leading to bull trout spawning beds.
“Trestle Creek is the single most important spawning stream for Lake Pend Oreille’s bull trout,” said Brad Smith, ICL’s North Idaho director. “Bald eagles, deer, moose, beavers and more also thrive in this serene, hidden refuge for wildlife — that could all be lost if this harmful marina and high-end housing construction project moves forward. The area would better serve the public interest through permanent protection.”
Building the marina directly to the north of the mouth of Trestle Creek will require the excavation of an island with an active eagle’s nest, the filling of a backwater channel, removal of a beaver dam, and pile driving as many as 410 steel piles for up to eight weeks, which is likely to occur when bull trout are migrating out of Trestle Creek.
The development will also reroute the North Branch of Trestle Creek, which connects the lake to Trestle Creek approximately one mile upstream.
Today’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, argues that the agencies failed to consider the direct and cumulative impacts of building both the marina and residential development on bull trout critical habitat, resulting in violations of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Bull trout have been protected since 1999, when they were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In 2010 the Service designated critical habitat for the trout, including Trestle Creek.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.