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County tables latest call for no-wake in Hayden Lake bay

by JENNIFER PASSARO
Staff Writer | May 27, 2020 1:00 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Kootenai County commissioners on Tuesday heard another proposal to make a busy bay in Hayden Lake a no-wake zone.

Two years ago, Dalton Gardens resident Craig Ely proposed a no-wake zone in Honeysuckle Bay and last September user groups proposed a similar idea.

Tuesday, Ely brought his concern before the BOCC yet again. He proposed extending the no-wake zone from the Honeysuckle boat launch south, to encompass the entire bay for safety reasons, but commissioners balked.

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. The cove of the bay is about a quarter-mile long and a quarter-mile from shore to shore.

Ely’s relatives live two doors down from the boat launch. Every year he has noticed an increase in both the intensity and diversity of uses in Honeysuckle Bay.

“We’ve all heard the cliche, if you see something, say something,” Ely said. “So I feel compelled to say something ... as a compassionate citizen I feel compelled to address the situation.”

Parks and Waterways director Nick Snyder said Ely has already coordinated with the sheriff’s office for buoy locations if the commissioners decide to act on the latest proposal.

“Near miss incidents have dramatically increased over the years,” Ely said.

The commissioners, however, tabled the idea.

“They weren’t willing to make that a no-wake area,” said Nanci Plouffe, senior business analyst for the board. “The zone would prevent people who have docks from parking their boats at the dock.”

The water 200 feet from the shore is already a no-wake zone by county ordinance. Ely proposed reducing the speed limit or extending the no-wake zone to include the area south of the Honeysuckle boat launch.

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 percent more than the $12 million resident boaters spent in the county that year, according to the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.

Commissioners recently ruled to keep a no-wake zone 100 feet from shore, and make anything within a 150-foot buffer from shore a “no excessive wake” zone on the Spokane River, Lower Twin Lake and Fernan Lake. Other lakes in the county will have a no-wake zone that extends 200 feet from shore and a “no excessive wake” zone extending 300 feet from shore.