“What’s the difference between the Improvement District and the Association? I feel confused!”
Those are the sentiments of many around the lake who look for answers to questions or try to have their voices heard.
What is the Improvement District?
The Hayden Lake Watershed Improvement District is authorized under Idaho code to care for the watershed. It is defined by the watershed boundaries – roughly the drainage area from the ridgeline down to the lake. Like a school district, every property owner in the basin is a part of the Improvement District and pays a small property tax to fund the District’s activities.
The mission of the Improvement District is to protect and enhance the water quality and environmental health of the watershed. In addition to lake management, the Improvement District manages long-term projects that impact the lake’s water quality. In the past, for example, we sponsored a long-term assessment of the phosphorous contribution of neighborhood runoff from the residential hillside above the southeast shore. The phosphorus concentration in the lake water is a concern because it is an indicator of water quality. The Improvement District also researched the nutrient content over time in the lake’s north arm. This data will advance our understanding of the factors that lead to blue-green algae blooms in that part of the lake. They continue to monitor water characteristics in certain bays around the lake to ascertain the health of the shallower areas.
What is the Association?
The Hayden Lake Watershed Association is an organization of concerned citizens whose interests span the watershed from the lake to the watershed’s upper reaches. Over 14 years ago, the organization formed by merging two neighborhood groups who shared a common concern. Since 2009, the Association has held nonprofit status under the IRS 501 (c)(3) statute. A volunteer board manages the association. Member dues and contributions provide funding.
The Association is an advocate for the Hayden Lake watershed, largely on environmental issues. Residential and industry-related development around the lake often drives these concerns. In addition, it performs citizen oversight of governmental action and its potential effect on lake water quality and can provide a collective voice as an input to the political system. Association projects encourage safety for all on the lake, protect the lake from erosion-induced contamination, educate visitors and residents around the lake regarding safe behaviors and the impacts of our actions, clean and repair damage to beautiful places in the mountains of the watershed, and promote governmental decisions that preserve the quality of the environment in the watershed.
What are the relationships between the Improvement District and the Association?
The financial resources for the Association are strong when neighbors share concerns and want to band together for a common purpose. Conversely, in periods where there are no threats, interest in and financial support for the Association declines. Sustainable lake management and long-term, consistent watershed assessment were desired but not possible with such fluctuations in resources. Therefore, the Improvement District was born out of the Association in 2014 to provide financial and oversight stability for the longer-term objectives. Consequently, both organizations work to maintain and improve the quality of the water and the environment throughout the watershed.
The Association can provide public input into the political process, whereas the Improvement District must remain impartial on political issues. The Improvement District funds sustainable management of the lake and long-term projects, whereas the Association, with unpredictable funding, can support only short-term objectives.
Both the Improvement District and the Association are Part of Something Bigger.
The Improvement District and the Association work together and partner with other stakeholder organizations such as the State Departments of Lands and Agriculture, the Kootenai County Government, the Lakes Highway District, the Kootenai Environmental Alliance, and all interested and energetic residents, local businesses, and Lake users. For example, both the District and the Association have been working with the Idaho Department of Agriculture to manage noxious weed invasion of the lake. Our success illustrates how we best effect change through cooperation.
What does this mean for you?
Are you looking for information about Hayden Lake’s water quality or how your actions might affect the Lake’s water quality? Ask the Improvement District.
- Subscribe to receive notice of new posts on this website.
- Contact the Lake Manager, Todd Walker.
- Contact an HLWID Board member.
Are you interested in working with a group of people to influence the County or State government’s decisions? Contact the Association.