For most of the 20th century, mining wastes in the Coeur d’Alene Basin were discharged into the South Fork and mainstem Coeur d’Alene River and its tributaries, or were deposited on lands and eventually migrated into ground and surface waters. Mine tailings and sediments contaminated with lead and zinc continue to be deposited in the basin’s stream channels, levees, and floodplains, as well as in lakes and wetlands next to the river, and in Coeur d’Alene Lake. The negative effects of these practices were immediately seen upon animals and crops downstream and increased over the next century.
In 1991, a natural resource damage claim was filed seeking damages from the parties parties responsible for the release of mine-waste contamination under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). This litigation lasted for the next 20-years. Upon settlement the Coeur d’Alene Basin Natural Resource Trustees began to develop a restoration plan for the Coeur d’Alene Basin.
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) has now been created for the Coeur d’Alene Basin Restoration Plan to provide a strategic framework to guide the restoration of natural resources in the Coeur d’Alene Basin.
Because restoration needs far exceed funds available, the Plan is meant to provide a method to determine how and where to best use limited resources effectively to restore the injured natural resources.
The RP geographically prioritizes restoration and broad actions intended to restore ecosystem functions in affected areas to their “baseline” condition. Prioritization is needed as the planning area covers more than 4,000 square miles in and around the Basin.
This restoration work is separate from cleanup work being led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the basin.
“The Tribe has been looking forward to this for a long time,” said Phillip Cernera, who represents the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in the Restoration Partnership. “For thousands of years the Tribe has flourished in this area in its pristine state. It’s only been over the past 130 years that Tribal members have had to limit their interactions with the environment and we’re anxious to get the Basin on track toward restoration.”
There is a series of public meetings that will be held where you can learn more about this plan or you can read the plan online.
December 6, 2016 – 5-7 p.m. at the St. Maries Fire Department, 308 W. Jefferson St.
December 7, 2016 – 5-7 p.m. at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library 702 E. Front St.
December 8, 2016 – 5-7 p.m. at the Osburn VFW Hall, 318 E. Mullan Ave. Osburn, ID
January 5, 2016- 4-6 pm at JAVA on Sherman — Coeur d’Alene Tribe will be presenting at KEA Happy Hour.
Comments are being accepted through January 13, 2017.
Send comments to:
Mail: Idaho Panhandle National Forest
Attn: Jo Christensen
3815 N Schrieber Way
Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815