Commissioners are considering a proposal to make a busy bay in Hayden Lake a no-wake zone.
A popular summer destination, Honeysuckle Bay, on the 3,800-acre lake’s southwest corner, has seen an uptick in use. The bay includes a public swim area, boat launch and docks, as well as a 1,200-foot walking path and levee often used as a jumping off point for swimmers, dog owners, paddle boarders and kayakers. The cove of the bay is about a quarter-mile long and a quarter-mile from shore to shore.
A group of lake users wants to make the bay safer by requiring watercraft inside its confines to slow down.
“They want a no-wake zone for the entire bay,” Kootenai County Parks and Waterways director Nick Snyder said.
A year ago, Hayden resident Craig Ely pitched a similar proposal in an effort to ensure Honeysuckle Bay would be safe for a variety of users.
Although the water 200 feet from lake shoreline is considered a no-wake zone by county ordinance, Ely previously proposed reducing the speed limit or extending the no-wake zone to include the area south of the Honeysuckle boat launch. His effort was not successful, so he opted to float the idea again this summer.
As more people take to North Idaho’s many waterways each year, no-wake zones have become a popular agenda item for commissioners. Kootenai County, with its ample waterways and with more than 14,000 registered boaters, sees a lot of resident and nonresident boat traffic. Nonresident boaters on day trips spent about $15 million in Kootenai County in 2015, 20% more than the $12 million resident boaters spent in the county that year, according to the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.
Commissioners this year took up no-wake proposals on the Spokane River, where the sheriff’s office marine division spent several days on emphasis patrols.
On the Spokane, boaters within 100 feet of a dock or shoreline must travel at speeds no greater than 5 mph without creating a wake. Motorized watercraft are prohibited from traveling at speeds that create dangerous or damaging wakes.
The county recently adopted a no-wake zone on Spirit Lake that includes the channel near the public beach and boat launch along West Spirit Lake Road.
Commissioners said they would consider the Honeysuckle Bay proposal once it is fleshed out and asked Snyder to discuss it with Hayden Lake stakeholders.