Pulling pilings - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Pulling pilings

Kootenai County gains authority to remove hazards

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Posted: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Boaters new to the area tend to stumble across an unpleasant surprise when they head down the Spokane River, says Craig Brosenne, general manager of the Hagadone Marine Group.

Log pilings.

"A lot of them aren't flagged, so in the dark at night when you're coming in and out of the river, you can't see them," Brosenne said. "People visiting want to go down to the Spokane River, and next thing you know, you've got a log sticking in front of them. All the boaters would enjoy if they were gone."

Boaters will get their wish.

Kootenai County has just gained authority to remove all hazardous log pilings and booms from the Spokane River and Lake Coeur d'Alene, thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding the county signed with the Idaho Department of Lands last week.

It's possible that at least 250 pilings will be removed, estimated Nick Snyder, director of county Parks and Waterways.

The first phase will focus on logs cluttering the river from Cedars Restaurant to the Post Falls Dam, he said.

"There is a significant amount of boat traffic in that corridor, and it's narrow," Snyder said. "Some of these are submerged and those that are visible pose a navigational hazard, particularly at night."

Although the pilings are vestiges of logging operations a century old, they haven't posed a risk until boat traffic starting increasing in recent years, he said.

Dock building has also left less space to maneuver.

"Growth has just prompted us to take a look at it," Snyder said. "We can all agree it's a matter of time until someone makes contact with pilings during navigation."

Brosenne says boaters already have.

The marina has repaired damages on several boats that have collided with logs in the river, he said.

"It depends on how fast they're going," he said of damages. "To boaters who have boated here a long time, they're really familiar with them (the pilings). But we get a lot of day boaters from other parts of the state, and it's really bad for them."

The sheriff's marine division could not be reached for comment about how often injuries occur.

Jim Aucutt, chairman of the county Parks and Waterways Advisory Board, said boats run into the pilings frequently, especially in the narrow section by the Bellerive development.

"Sometimes it's just a minor bump, sometimes it's major damage," Aucutt said. "There's no requirement to report an accident, and most boaters just don't. They're afraid they'll get into trouble for hitting those and just get it fixed."

Carl Washburn with the Idaho Department of Lands said the MOU was more than two years in the planning.

"For one, you had a mill open and still running, so you got to go back and forth with everybody on this," Washburn said. "It just took a little while."

The IDL was pleased to see the agreement happen, he added.

"I think it's going to improve navigability on the river," he said.

Commissioner Todd Tondee said his only worry is that injuries could occur without the pilings, too.

"It (the removal) will open up where you can get closer to shore, and there could be some dead heads closer in we didn't see," he said. "It's just something that needs to be a concern."

Removal on the Spokane River will begin in October, Snyder said.

It is unsure when work will begin on Lake Coeur d'Alene, he added.

"I imagine it will be years," he said. "Funding will set the tone for how and when we remove these."

He couldn't predict what the overall cost would be.

Avista is contributing $25,000 toward the piling removal, as agreed under its relicensing process.

Kootenai County is hoping to partner with others on the cost, Snyder said, possibly including the cities of Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls, as well as private individuals.

Anyone interested can contact Snyder at 446-1275.

"As of now, we do have some funds to at least start the process," Snyder said. "It's really going to be beautiful when it's completed."

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  • Cheyenne posted at 9:14 am on Fri, Sep 10, 2010.

    Cheyenne Posts: 35

    I believe this is driven by the CDA elitists who continue to pursue endeavors that line their pockets (many funded by the taxpayers), this one under the guise of safety. BUNK! Of course in the same breath they say "it will be so beautiful". The 'haves' though have much more money and political clout than the common folk so as usual, kay sera sera.

  • efromm posted at 6:14 am on Thu, Sep 9, 2010.

    efromm Posts: 701

    @efromm ..Ahh yes. It is too bad the good old days are gone" BUT remember NOW is someone's "good old days."

    Some how you think I forgot that? So today's good old days are tons of houses on the Spokane river? We used to duck hunt on that river. There were forests along the river banks then. Now it's houses and docks. Yep we sure are making the river better. How many docks can we get on the Spokane river? If people look back on today as their good old days I am sorry, because they missed the most beautiful natural place that used to be here. The Idaho I grew up in is gone. And every day some one else takes it away from me...

  • Ziggy posted at 4:35 pm on Wed, Sep 8, 2010.

    Ziggy Posts: 1286

    What the boaters want, the boaters get. More and bigger boats from out of staters. We need these like a hole in the head. Personally, I prefer the osprey to the big boats. Don't they have lakes in California and Washington? If we all pay taxes to have these removed, how about setting aside a day on the river and lakes for non-motorized craft? Yeah, like that's going to happen. Kayakers don't buy $10 drinks.

  • citizen kane posted at 1:18 pm on Wed, Sep 8, 2010.

    citizen kane Posts: 4

    Perhaps they should use the salvaged pilings as shore buffers to cut down on erosion caused by the wakes of speeding boats.

  • Randy Myers posted at 9:11 am on Wed, Sep 8, 2010.

    Randy Myers Posts: 1635

    The tall pilings should remain and encourage boaters to go slow. I agree with happycity.

    @ stroud09....That's really interesting! I agree that taxpayers shouldn't be billed for this.

    @ local res...Maybe not legally but yes, in fact, it will essentially disappear.

    @efromm ..Ahh yes. It is too bad the good old days are gone BUT remember NOW is someone's "good old days."

  • stroud09 posted at 9:00 am on Wed, Sep 8, 2010.

    stroud09 Posts: 28

    Many years ago a local group proposed salvaging saw logs from the bottom of the Lake. They where told those logs belonged to the CDA log owners association. That group placed those pilings to control their property into the mills. So why are they not responsible for their removal? Why should the taxpayers be footing the bill?

  • local res posted at 6:57 am on Wed, Sep 8, 2010.

    local res Posts: 1165

    When th booms are gone will the no wake zone disappear also

  • happycity posted at 6:38 am on Wed, Sep 8, 2010.

    happycity Posts: 9

    I have been here forever and would really caution boaters that the removal of thepilings may cause a false sense of security. The pilings in a weird way did create a "one lane" each direction. My vision of a river without pilings will make our river look a lot wider and tempt more boaters to create extra travel lanes. Something to think about............................

  • efromm posted at 5:57 am on Wed, Sep 8, 2010.

    efromm Posts: 701

    That's funny they can't avoid something that does not move. If people think the pilings are bad remember when the mills were all over the river and you had to avoid loose logs and dead heads? Bark getting stuck in your props? Ah the good old days when you could park your boat on a beach and hang out.....

  • cyclekid58 posted at 5:18 am on Wed, Sep 8, 2010.

    cyclekid58 Posts: 1

    Regarding the story about pulling up the Pilings, I question how to keep boats and Jetskiis off the North Idaho College Beach. City Beach has a ring of floats surrounding it, the lakeshore between city beach and the college beach has floats saying no motorized craft, and NIC has had signage on the pilings from the Department of waterways stating no motorized craft beyond this point. With the pilings going away so do the signs. That beach is heavily populated during the summer and even with signs boats and Jetskiis don't pay attention but the Sheriff's Marine patrol could enforce it due to the signage. Does the county have a plan in place to protect the beachgoers from harm?

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