What makes this story so important is its banality. The pattern described in this A.P. article is “business and usual.” Arrogant developers like Bob Holland destroy the environment whenever they feel like it and pay a pathetically small fine when caught. Meanwhile, species like Konanee salmon die a “death by a thousand cuts.”
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — A developer expanding a marina without approval on Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho destroyed one of the last healthy spawning bed areas for the lake’s struggling kokanee salmon, an official said.
Bob Holland had eight steel beams pounded into the shallow spawning beds on April 17, using a barge and tugboat that bulldozed through the area, said Chip Corsi, regional director of the Idaho Fish and Game Department.He said it was a blow to groups who had been working to boost the kokanee population in the lake.
“This was a great spawning bed,” Corsi told The Spokesman-Review. “From my view, what this guy did is pretty unconscionable. It’s a slap in the face to the folks who are working their tails off on this.”Corsi said Holland did not have the permits needed for the work in an area of the lake called Scenic Bay, near the town of Bayview.
The Idaho Department of Lands issued a stop-work order the day after the beams were put in. Holland had applied for a permit to expand a boardwalk but the public comment period did not end until April 20, said Jim Brady, with the Idaho Department of Lands.”They were fully aware of that but went ahead and started the work,” Brady said.
Fish and Game scientists said the damage from the construction likely killed many small kokanee that had hatched but were still in the gravel living in sheltered beds, and a survey of the area found crushed fish and smashed eggs.”There are dead kokanee to show for it,” Corsi said. “Those are wild, spawning fish we can’t replace.”According to Fish and Game, 98 percent of the remaining wild kokanee salmon spawning in the lake took place last fall where Holland had the work done.
Holland’s company, Waterford Park Homes, has been buying and developing property in Bayview.Holland did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press on Saturday. The Spokesman-Review also said he did not return messages seeking comment.
Holland didn’t have the needed state permit, but he did have a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the work, said Brad Daly, chief of the agency’s regional regulatory division.”It appears there are some impacts that have occurred which were not anticipated by us,” Daly said. “We are looking into this.”
Fish and Game estimates that the sport fishery in the lake is worth about $17 million to the local economy.Stuart Blockoff, president of the Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club, said fines should be increased to protect important areas. Holland could be fined up to $2,500 by the Idaho Department of Lands.”It’s so much cheaper just to go ahead and pay the fines,” Blockoff said. “That’s so damn frustrating for the rest of us.”