Saving Cougar Bay - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Saving Cougar Bay

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho —The calm waters of Cougar Bay are located only a couple miles from downtown Coeur d'Alene. The many log booms and pilings provide a home and shelter to several species of wildlife.

"At the moment it is a refuge for osprey," said Terry Harris, Kootenai Environmental Alliance executive director. "A refuge for fish and wildlife, and a refuge for quiet fishing and kayaking."

"More often than not you have the bay to yourself," said Peter Grubb, kayaker.

Peter Grubb is the founder of ROW Adventures. He has kayaked in Cougar Bay for more than fifteen years. He says the calm and quiet waters is what makes the area an ideal spot for kayaking.

"A little haven of tranquility on a lake that is otherwise fairly busy with motorized use," said Grubb.

A no-wake zone keeps most motorized boats from coming into Cougar Bay, but some people worry it won't always stay that way.

"Once the big boats are in the bay, the bay starts to lose it's character," said Harris"

Terry Harris is the executive director for the Kootenai Environmental Alliance. He says much of the uplands and shorelines of the bay are already protected through the B-L-M and Nature Conservancy.

"But the bay itself is unprotected, and we want to preserve the pilings, preserve the booms, and preserve the quiet nature of the bay itself," said Harris.

His group is supporting the Osprey Protective Associations attempt in applying for an encroachment permit to limit future development and keep motorized boats out of the bay. But the Idaho Department of Lands quickly denied their application. In a rejection letter sent back to the Osprey Protection Association, IDL said the reason they rejected their application is state rules require for someone requesting non-commercial encroachments to improve waterways must be a governmental agency or other entity to make such improvements.

"Flatly rejecting the application up front doesn't quite seem fair," said Harris.

Harris hopes that the Department of Lands will eventually listen to their request. He says they aren't trying to make any environmental changes. Rather they only want to permanently maintain the status quo.

"We think the booms and pilings ought to stay there, they protect the bay, it's historical heritage, and I hope the Department of Lands would see it our way," said Harris.

 

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