President’s Message: Summer 2012
The State of Hayden Lake
Every year scheduled to coincide with our annual membership meeting, the Board of the Hayden Lake Watershed Association tries to summarize the condition of and issues concerning Hayden Lake. The summary is designed to inform our members concerning events and issues that have come up over the year. This summary should also permit the members to frame questions concerning the lake and its watershed.
Lake Water Levels and Boat Wakes: Water levels on the lake were quite low even as late as mid-winter. The snowpack increased remarkably after mid-winter and spring rains were heavy. As a result the lake surface rose to very high levels through the spring and into summer. For a second year excess water flooded into the Clark Pasture. Although last year’s water levels were not duplicated, the high water level persisted practically until August 1st. As a result, boating activity which got underway late due to the cold temperatures, was significant when the water level was above the 2238 feet elevation ordinary high water mark. High water and wind naturally causes additional bank erosion on the lake. The addition of boat wakes only exacerbates the erosion. Coeur d’Alene Lake has an automatic no wake rule when its water level exceeds 2,133 feet, five feet above the ordinary high water mark. Some lakeshore owners around Hayden have questioned why Coeur d’Alene Lake owners are afforded this protection while it is not afforded on Hayden or the other small lakes except for Fernan.
Hayden Lake Watershed Improvement District: During November 2011, Governor Otter appointed two board members to the long dormant Hayden Lake Watershed Improvement District. Steve Meyer and Mel Schmidt were appointed and these two members appointed Cecil Hathaway to round out the Board. The District is enabled under Idaho Water Code and was created for other purposes during the 1970s. It is the only such district in Idaho.
The Association, under the leadership of the late Lee Shellman, discovered the District’s existence and has worked to resuscitate it as a governmental mechanism to collect modest fees and to do the work on the lake that benefits all the adjacent owners and lake users. The Association came to the conclusion that management actions like aquatic weed control, floating docks and debris collection and removal, storm water drainage collection and treatment, litter control, having an active lake manager, and monitoring the health of our lake will require a funding source that spreads these costs equitably. The state and county governments’ support of such activities have been in continual decline or are non-existent. If all of us with property around the lake do not equitably share the costs, these tasks necessary to maintain the quality of our lake and its special environment will not occur. We all have too high a stake in the lake’s quality not to share the modest costs of it maintenance.
The Watershed Improvement District’s Board is currently organizing and developing both a budget and a specific list of projects it will take on initially. The appointed Board members must stand for popular election. The Association has over the years taken the position that any fee imposed should be put to a popular vote of the District constituents and justified based on real work benefitting the lake and its users.
Aquatic Weed Control: Again this year the lake was treated for Eurasian milfoil the third week of July. The areas treated were based on earlier census of milfoil presence. The results of this year’s treatment should be available this fall. In the interim the county weed control district has a limited number of aquatic weed treatment mats available. If you are interested in using one to treat weeds off your property either around your dock or in a swimming area, please contact Todd Walker at 771-0525. Todd can help you apply for the required permit from the Department of Lands and assist you in obtaining a mat.
Development Near the Lake: Development was quite active around the lake up until last year, but a cooling high end housing market in North Idaho has appeared to put a temporary hiatus on such plans. The Hemlock Hills subdivision on the far end of the “sewered zone” of the south shore is rumored to be redesigned with a lower density, but it has as yet not been re-proposed to the county. The Association does not oppose the subdivision or any proper use of property surrounding the lake. However, it is concerned that such development be carried forward in a manner that will not harm the watershed or the lake.
Land Development Ordinance: The development issue that has raised some controversy is Kootenai County’s efforts to consolidate its land development ordinances under a single coherent set of rules. These rules both consolidate and clarify earlier county code and implement the recently revised and adopted county land use plan. The county has a professional code writing firm developing the rules. The code writers have met often with the public and maintain a website at www.kccode.com. The lakeshore setback and site disturbance rules have raised considerable controversy. The original lakeshore setback proposal was a 25 feet exclusion zone and an additional 25 feet with restricted use dependent on slope, soil stability and a number of factors. After considerable comment this formula was withdrawn and a new formula would grandfather in much of the existing setback of structures that exists. The provision would safeguard owners against violation of the rules from existing conditions. It would require considerable additional planning for the fifty foot setback zone, dependent on the severity of the parcel proposed for development. In theory, any parcel could still be developed if enough funding was applied to the problem site, but practically, the ordinance would likely create a group of properties that are so severe that their development would not be feasible. The code continues a work in progress which the Association’s Board is closely tracking. We urge those with an interest in these issues to visit the county website on the developing code and make your opinions known. We will all be living with the product ordinance for many years.
These and other issues will be discussed at the annual membership meeting held at the Hayden Lake Country Club. We will gather starting at 6 PM to visit with each other and the meeting will begin at 6:30 PM. I urge you to attend and to pay your annual, if you have not previous done so. Your financial assistance furthers our effort to protect Hayden lake. I hope to see you at the meeting.
Geoff Harvey, President