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IDL approves Idaho Club's lake bed encroachment permit

Staff Writer | October 28, 2023 1:00 AM

On Friday, Idaho Department of Lands director Dustin Miller approved The Idaho Club’s application for a lake bed encroachment permit — the first step in the proposed Trestle Creek development project — despite its potential negative impacts to bull trout as well as adverse local community opposition.

“It’s disappointing that the Idaho Department of Lands ignored public concerns about the project,” said Brad Smith, North Idaho director of the Idaho Conservation League. “There is also evidence in the record that substantiates our concerns about the impact the project will have on Trestle Creek and bull trout.”

In June, 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 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 a nearly four-hour-long IDL public hearing Sept. 6 to object to the development.

Only one attendee spoke in favor of the project while all others voiced their opposition to the issue.

Both The Idaho Club and IDL claimed that the marina will not harm bull trout. Some suggested the development may even help bull trout populations as the project would re-route a portion of Trestle Creek to what is alleged to be its original flow pattern.

However, an email in the administrative record from the assistant state supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the IDL stated the opposite.

“There is a history of diminishing proportions of redds starting in 2004,” the email read. “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 email went on to claim that the project would more than likely adversely affect bull trout.

Staff at ICL said 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 — or states — away.

“The decision to approve a community dock means that The Idaho Club will not have to make at least 50% of the boat slips available to members of the public, as is normally required under the rules for commercial marinas,” ICL communications manager Abby Urbanek said in a press release. “Instead, all of the slips will be limited to residents of The Idaho Club.”

Any aggrieved parties who attended the public hearing Sept. 6 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,” said 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. ICL staff are strongly encouraging the public to stay engaged in this important issue and make their voices heard on this issue. 

“Unchecked development is the top threat to North Idaho’s lakes and waterways,” said Urbanek. “ICL will continue to speak up for these places that are so worthy of protection.”