Friday, June 21, 2024

Hearing set on proposed Trestle Creek development

| September 1, 2023 1:00 AM

The Department of Lands has scheduled a public hearing regarding the renewed plans to build luxury housing and a private marina on the shores of Idaho’s Trestle Creek — a proposal that officials say would harm a key spawning site for threatened bull trout.

“The Idaho Club’s proposal was a horrible idea last year and it’s just as horrible now,” said Kristine Akland, Northern Rockies director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is nearly identical to the plan we successfully fought. It would be catastrophic for dwindling bull trout and would scar one of Idaho’s most beautiful and serene waterways.”

In response to a lawsuit filed by the Idaho Conservation League and the Center for Biological Diversity in 2022, the Army Corps of Engineers withdrew a permit authorizing construction of a previous iteration of The Idaho Club’s lakeside development.

The newest proposal calls for five single-family estates and a private marina with 105 fixed-pier docks. The project would reroute Trestle Creek’s north branch, excavate an island and peninsula, and discharge thousands of tons of soil, rock and other debris into Lake Pend Oreille near the mouth of Trestle Creek.

“Trestle Creek is a gem of North Idaho and is one of the few places where families can easily observe spawning bull trout and kokanee,” said Brad Smith, North Idaho director for the Idaho Conservation League. “Given that the project would only benefit a small number of residents of The Idaho Club, this project is not in the public’s best interest. We’d be better served by recovering our endangered species and protecting natural wonders like Trestle Creek for generations to come.”

In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated critical habitat for the endangered bull trout, including Trestle Creek. Trestle Creek also provides important habitat for other species including bald eagles, migratory birds, beavers and kokanee salmon. The proposed development would destroy important shoreline vegetation, a beaver dam, nesting trees for bald eagles and osprey and recreational areas.

To move forward, the developer needs a lakebed encroachment permit from the Idaho Department of Lands — the agency responsible for permitting docks and marinas. The department is required to consider whether projects are in the public’s interest.

“Community members have been concerned about this problematic development for years,” said Smith. “We appreciate the opportunity that the Department of Lands has given us to speak about why this proposal should be denied.”

The public hearing will be held Sept. 6, from 5 to 10 p.m. in the Sandpoint High School auditorium, located at 410 S. Division Ave. Written comments should be submitted by today to Gwen Victorson at