U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Must Reconsider Impacts of Idaho Club-Lakeside Development on Threatened Bull Trout
In response to a formal notice of intent to sue filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper and Idaho Conservation League, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reinitiate consultation under the Endangered Species Act and analyze the impacts of constructing a marina with 124 boat slips and five condominiums on Trestle Creek, an important spawning stream for bull trout.
“This project threatens one of Idaho’s most sensitive and precious freshwater fish species,” said Kristine Akland, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re pleased that the Service has recognized that the agencies have a duty to ensure bull trout and their critical habitat in Trestle Creek aren’t unduly harmed.”
In a response to the conservation groups’ notice, the Service recommended that the Army Corps reinitiate consultation on the proposed development to ensure that it does not jeopardize the continued existence of bull trout or destroy critical habitat.
The Service concurred with the conservation groups that Trestle Creek, a vital bull trout spawning stream, has been subject to continued degradation that has subsequently affected bull trout spawning and critical habitat. The Army Corps has indicated that it will “evaluate the [Service’s] request and determine whether to agree to reinitiate consultation.”
The planned development would require the excavation of an island and peninsula, removing 14,000 cubic yards of material from Lake Pend Oreille near the mouth of Trestle Creek, an area designated as bull trout critical habitat.
“We’re pleased that the agencies charged with protecting our waterways and fisheries are going to take another look at this,” said Brad Smith of the Idaho Conservation League. “Everything that can be done to protect Trestle Creek and its bull trout and kokanee fisheries should be considered.”
“We’re grateful that the Service recognizes this process started over a decade ago and is willing to consider more recent data that confirms the sensitivity of the area,” said Steve Holt, Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper. “Reviewing this project is simply the right thing to do.”
Bull trout were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. In 2010 the Service designated 18,795 miles of streams and 488,252 acres of lakes and reservoirs in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Nevada as critical habitat for the fish.
Cover Picture: Bull Trout, Salvelinus Confluentus, Dave Bickford, Willamette National Forest