A no go for motorized watercraft

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Courtesy image This map details out the sections (striped) of the Coeur d’Alene River that are now prohibited from using any form of motorized watercraft on.

MEDIMONT — According to a recent press release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, all motorized watercraft has been prohibited in certain locations along the Coeur d’Alene River.

Effective Oct. 1, the Gray’s Meadow segment of the Coeur d’Alene River Wildlife Management Area will have no motorized watercraft allowed on a year-round basis.

This comes just weeks after the IDFG hosted an open house meeting with locals to consider airboat closures on a limited portion of the Coeur d’Alene River WMA in the region where the Chain Lakes are located.

The particular segment of the river that will see the restriction is roughly 5 miles long and brushes right up against Cave, Swan, Black and Blue lakes before ending just short of Thompson Lake in the Chain Lakes area of the Coeur d’Alene River.

After an initial proposal and receiving public feedback, IDFG decided to close the Gray’s Meadow segment to all motorized watercraft, while not restricting motorized use on the Black Rock Slough segment of the WMA.

“The Grey’s Meadow (formerly Black Lake Ranch) was recently acquired by IDFG, is very shallow, and has limited access/opportunity for motorized watercraft access,” said Norm Merz, a regional wildlife habitat manager with IDFG. “Therefore, we believe that by designating the Grey’s Meadow section as non-motorized, while not restricting modes of access in the Black Rock Slough section of the Coeur d’Alene River WMA, we adequately responded to the requests of hunters for a non-motorized area, while not altering on-going uses.”

In a previous interview with the Shoshone News-Press, Merz discussed why these restrictions are important for keeping hunters happy by giving them options.

“Airboats are becoming more popular and may compete with hunters that use conventional means of access, such as foot travel, canoes and boats,” Merz said. “The proposed airboat restrictions are aimed at providing hunters a choice of experiences. The airboat closure areas will still be accessible by conventional methods, while the remaining portion of the WMA will remain available for both conventional and airboat access.”

A WMA is a protected area set aside for the conservation of wildlife and for recreational activities involving wildlife — like hunting or fishing.

For more information, please contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at its Panhandle Regional Office at 208-769-1414.

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