Fernan Lake, located just north of Coeur d’Alene Lake, acre for acre is Idaho’s most popular place for recreational fishing. Unfortunately, water quality has deteriorated in recent years due to large amounts of phosphorus-laden sediments running into Fernan Lake from historical logging, shoreline erosion and agricultural activities in the watershed. An excess of phosphorus has triggered prolonged annual blue-green algae blooms that may produce toxins capable of causing skin irritation or illness to humans, and illness or even death to pets and wildlife when they ingest or come into contact with it.
The recurrence of these algae blooms highlights the need for immediate action in addressing and remediating these sources of phosphorus. Kootenai Environmental Alliance, with support from Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s Nonpoint Source Management Program, will begin restoration of Fernan Lake’s eroding shoreline on Tuesday, May 31st.
Following the improvements made to the Fernan Lake road a few years ago, fisherman have flocked to the easily accessible shoreline. The shoreline along the road is steep, does not have riparian vegetation; these factors combined with high foot traffic has resulted in a great deal of erosion.
“Addressing the primary sources of phosphorus pollution, like shoreline erosion, is the first step in restoring water quality to Fernan Lake. Our goal is to pursue projects that reduce nutrient loading, and ultimately decrease the prevalence of these algae blooms that prohibit recreation and pose health risks to people, wildlife and pets.” Adrienne Cronebaugh, Executive Director for Kootenai Environmental Alliance.
“Planting a shoreline buffer along Fernan Lake is one important step in improving lake water quality. Kootenai Environmental Alliance continues to be leaders in the community for Fernan Lake and other Lakes in the region. We are happy to partner with them on this project.” Kristin Larson, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
Students from North Idaho College’s INBRE program, as well as volunteers from the Fernan Lake Recreation and Conservation Association will be lending a hand to get the plants in the ground and nurture them to adapt through what is expected to be another hot summer season.