The Short Story:
Working with volunteer residents around the lake, the Hayden Lake Watershed Improvement District (HLWID) removed dozens of sodden logs, fallen trees, broken pieces of old docks, and other debris through the annual Lake Debris Removal (LDR) Program. A special shout out to Todd (our lake manager), Gil, Jan, and Ross (from the Hayden Lake Watershed Association), who led extra efforts to remove this floating junk from our lake.
The Long Story:
Memories of dry, cracked sediment along Hayden Lake’s shoreline are still fresh in our minds from 2021, when the lake water receded to alarmingly low levels. In the spring, winter’s debris was collected at the back of Mokins Bay through the LDR Program. Unexpectedly, the spring runoff failed to raise the water level enough to float the collected debris off the lake. It had to stay put for the summer.
In the winter of 2022, rising waters dislodged the debris, and two years of accumulated lake junk became free-floating again. Twenty-four derelict docks, several trees and logs, barrels, and other debris traveled the water or piled up on northern shores. It could have become unsightly, damaging, and dangerous. Fortunately, thoughtful residents went above and beyond to move the debris to the collection point in time for the Improvement District’s contractor to pull it out of the water in June.
That’s a happy ending.
The Lake Debris Removal Program:
The HLWID launched the LDR Program over five years ago to 1) reduce the hazards that logs floating in the water can become, especially at night, and 2) reduce the pile-ups that threaten the water quality when floating debris collects and deteriorates around docks or on shorelines. If left to float freely, broken dock pieces become traps and crash hazards for boaters on the lake. Often, prevailing winds drive debris northward, becoming a significant nuisance to our North Arm neighbors.
Through the LDR Program, the HLWID strives to contribute to a clean, healthy, and safe lake for all. By providing a collection location and covering the cost of disposal, the HLWID helps to keep shorelines clear of whatever Mother Nature washes up over the winter. It also frees the waterways from navigation hazards and protects the water quality.
However, the program is not intended to give residents free old-dock or yard waste disposal.
Participants in the LDR Program agree to meet the permit requirements:
“you will use the 2022 HLWID Lake Debris Removal Program only for debris that has floated into your shoreline or which presents a navigational hazard on the lake. You will not use this program to dispose of waste generated on your property or by the repair or construction of your dock.”
It’s against the law.
- Releasing damaged dock parts to float away on the lake.
- Piling trash onto a derelict dock and pushing it out to deeper water, untethered.
- Releasing abandoned docks from the collection site where they will drift and again become crash hazards.
These actions violate Kootenai County Ordinance 6-2-13-A: “No person shall allow a personal dock…to be released on any public body of water under which the county has boater safety responsibility.”
The LDR Program runs each spring.
The HLWID opens the permit process late each spring, working to remove refuse from the collection site by July. The site is available for debris tethering only during the 4-6 program weeks. It is never available for releasing free-floating debris. Water levels in the lake determine the exact collection and removal dates.
What if you missed the window for obtaining a permit and hauling logs or dock pieces to the collection site? Please secure the debris on your own shore and catch next year’s collection window. Pull it high onto your land and tether it so that spring runoff will not dislodge it, creating another hazard.
We need each other to keep Hayden Lake beautiful.
More critical than violating the law or breaking the LDR Program agreement, these acts violate Hayden Lake’s culture of care. The health and safety of the lake suffer, as do the sustainable beauty of the area and the essential bonds between neighbors.
The Hayden Lake Watershed Improvement District sponsors the Lake Debris Removal Program each spring as a part of its mission to preserve and enhance the environment and the water quality in the Hayden Lake Watershed. We do this for those who live, play, and nurture their families in this special place. If we cherish this place, then we take care of it. Every owner, renter, and visitor to Hayden Lake’s shoreline has a part to play.