Shoreline concerns are among many threats to the health of Coeur d’Alene Lake.
This article was written by Jennifer Passaro and published in the CDA Press on Friday, April 3, 2020. Read the original article.
In a packed room at the Iron Horse Restaurant in downtown Coeur d’Alene shortly before the coronavirus hit, the Four County Natural Resources Committee met over lunch.Federal and state resource managers, scientists, concerned citizens and a handful of local elected officials including Kootenai County Commissioner Chris Fillios and Coeur d’Alene City Council member Kiki Miller gathered to listen to a presentation about the health of Coeur d’Alene Lake.
The two limnologists charged with monitoring the lake’s health, Dale Chess of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and Craig Cooper of Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, presented evidence that oxygen levels in the lake are going in the wrong direction. Phosphorus and nitrogen levels in the lake are increasing, depleting oxygen levels at a greater rate, they said. Cooper said that without any doubt, the phosphorus levels in the lake are continuing to rise.
At a kitchen table in a well-tended home in the Garden District, Lynn and Joe Morris explained how they became aware of the condition of the lake in the mid-’90s. The couple have owned lakeshore property in Kootenai County near Harrison for 31 years. They are thoughtful, well-spoken, and have deep concerns about the health of the lake and the community that depends on it.
Joe Morris served as the chief executive officer of Kootenai Health for 30 years, retiring in 2010. The couple now participates in a University of Idaho extension program called Bay Watchers, where citizens in the community monitor clarity, temperature, and oxygen levels in the lake.
“People are good at responding to sudden, visible threats,” Joe Morris said. “But the deterioration of the lake is a slow, invisible process. By the time it is visible and apparent to everyone, it may be too late. It is difficult to motivate people when they can’t see it or feel threatened.”