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Kajsa Van de Riet

 Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

Conservation and Stream Restoration:  a Common Goal

 

If North Idaho Fly Casters (NIFC) over the years had developed a set of core values, conservation would certainly be found in the top three of the list of values. Fly fishermen/women are passionate about saving and preserving their aquatic resources.  NIFC frequently partners with outside agencies who work to restore the environment—especially with streams, lakes and fish.

 

Last year NIFC invited Kajsa Van de Riet from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to present at one of our Spring programs.  She did an amazing job tackling a rather complicated restoration plan and boiling the projects down into simple, understandable terms.  For those who attended you may recall some of the challenging issues.  Here’s a brief summary.

 

The Coeur d’Alene Basin Restoration Plan lays out a basic framework for restoring natural resources, like rivers, streams, riparian zones and wetlands that were destroyed during a century of mining in the basin.  Mining released tons of toxic ore containing lead, zinc and silver.

Upper Coeur d'Alene on Smokey Fall Day

After a multiyear process of litigation, negations and Environmental Protection Agency made a settlement with the mine owners realizing approximately $140 million dollars.  A local partnership Trustee Council was set up to include representatives from the Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho Department of Environmental Control, the Coeur d’Alene tribe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S Forest Services.  In 2018 through a series of meetings finalized a rather comprehensive plan and environmental impact study. 

 

What’s so frustrating about implementing the plan is the fact that even before actual restoration takes place, remediation of damaged land and waters must happen first. Phillip Cernera, director of Lake Management of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, comments that clean-up activities comes before restoration—and the clean-up and healing is quite time and labor intensive.  Cernera’s observation on so many committees coming to consensus and selecting projects happened over a period of time.  Afterall, Cernera says: “It took over 100 years to poison the wetlands, lakes and streams, and it may take another 100 years to clean them up.”

 

So this year Kajsa returns to our March program meeting to update us on some of the exciting accomplishments made since just last year.  She will touch upon the Wolf Creek Lodge Creek work; the Coeur d’Alene River work involving the Castle Rock ranch; the Idaho Forestry work near Pritchard involving nearly 2,000 acres….  And she will bring us up-to-date on the native trout restoration—especially the bull trout.

Kajsa Van de Riet