Blackwell Island boat launch opens next week

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BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT/Courtesy Beginning this season, campers at the Bureau of Land Management’s Huckleberry camp site on the St. Joe River must make reservations between May 15 and Oct. 1. The camp site’s popularity and increased usage prompted the change.

The Blackwell Island boat launch will swing open its gate for boaters beginning next week as the Bureau of Land Management gets a running start on its summer visitor season.

The popular launch on the south side of the Spokane River along U.S. 95 will open May 23, a week from today, Suzanne Endsley of the BLM said.

“The summer recreation season is on the horizon, including boating and camping at BLM recreation sites in northern Idaho,” Endsley said. “If you’re planning a day on Lake Coeur d’Alene fishing or boating ... Blackwell Island boat launch and recreation area will open for the season on Thursday.”

The BLM operates and maintains several sites in North Idaho including Blackwell Island, the Mica Bay Boater Park, Mineral Ridge launch and trail site in Wolf Lodge and Beauty bays as well as the Huckleberry Campground on the St. Joe River.

This year is the first time that Huckleberry will revert to reservation-only campsites at 29 of its 33 sites, Endsley said.

Because of increased use at the site and because it serves a lot of campers from Spokane and Coeur d’Alene who make the two-hour trip towing camp trailers, the BLM decided a reservation system for the May 15 to Oct. 1 timeframe would be a good fit.

“We’re seeing three to five reservations a day,” Endsley said.

For the time being, Huckleberry will keep four non-reservation sites available.

Blackwell Island offers four boat launch lanes, picnicking and a nature trail among its amenities. It is open through early October from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day with rates starting at $6 per day and season passes are $40. Season passes can also be used at Mineral Ridge boat launch.

Reservations for Huckleberry can be made through www.recreation.gov or by calling the toll-free number, 1-877-444-6777. Sites can be reserved for up to 14 days and reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

Mica Bay Boater Park offers tent camping or overnight moorage for just $10 per night, and the BLM’s Blue Creek Bay recreation area, 8 miles east of Coeur d’Alene is a family day trip destination that includes trails, kayak launches, picnicking and a fishing area.

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