Frequently Asked Questions
What does restoration mean?
Restoration, simply put, means to return a natural resource back to a healthy condition. Building wetlands and riverbanks, improving water quality and fish habitat, and planting trees and vegetation are some of the ways we can work to restore our natural resources. For any given project, we can focus on resources that have been harmed by mine-waste contamination or we can replace them by developing or protecting the same type of resources in a different location. An example of the latter is if a wetland has been too heavily impacted by lead contamination, and we cannot prevent future contamination from happening, we might then decide that it is better to develop a wetland in a different location than it is to attempt restoration at the contaminated site.
What does the term “natural resources” include?
Natural resources includes key elements of the natural environment, such as fish, wildlife, plants, wetlands, birds and the physical environment they live in.
Restoration is the process of returning natural resources back to a healthy condition. The Natural Resource Trustees, through the Restoration Partnership and in partnership with the public, are in charge of natural resource restoration.
Remediation, also known as the “Superfund Cleanup” or the “Coeur d’Alene Basin Cleanup,” is the process of removing mine-waste contamination (cleanup) in order to protect human health and the environment. The EPA is responsible for leading remediation and work with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and basin stakeholders.
A restoration plan is a document that outlines philosophies, priorities, and strategies to return our natural resources to a healthy condition. Together, we—the Restoration Partnership and the public—will shape the restoration plan for the entire Coeur d’Alene Basin.
In 2007, the Coeur d’Alene Basin Natural Resource Trustees finalized the Coeur d’Alene Basin Interim Restoration Plan (IRP) which identified several restoration projects as well as the need for a more comprehensive restoration plan. It is this “more comprehensive restoration plan,” that we are currently developing.
What is the Coeur d’Alene Basin?
A water basin is an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean.
For the Coeur d’Alene Basin, this includes all the land that drains water into Coeur d’Alene Lake and out the Spokane River. The area encompasses approximately 2.4 million acres of mountainous terrain with numerous streams, rivers, and lakes. It starts upstream to the east near the Montana border. Here, the South Fork Coeur d’Alene River flows through what is referred to as the ‘Silver Valley’. It then converges with the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River at Enaville, Idaho and becomes the Coeur d’Alene River mainstem. The Coeur d’Alene River mainstem continues to flow west through the chain lakes until it reaches Coeur d’Alene Lake.
From the south, the Coeur d’Alene Basin includes the St. Joe and St. Maries rivers. These rivers converge in St. Maries, Idaho and become the St. Joe River mainstem. The St. Joe River mainstem flows northwest for approximately 20 miles where it flows into Coeur d’Alene Lake.
Coeur d’Alene Lake is the main body of water in the Coeur d’Alene Basin. It flows north to its outlet, the Spokane River, at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Mine waste contamination primarily affects the South Fork Coeur d’Alene River, Coeur d’Alene River mainstem, and Coeur d’Alene Lake. There are also areas in the Spokane River that have deposits of contamination. Therefore, the upper Spokane River is included in the description of the overall Coeur d’Alene Basin area.
Who is leading the Restoration Partnership?
The Restoration Partnership is led by the Natural Resource Trustees listed in the table below. The Trustees work together through the Trustee Council and the Restoration Team. The Trustee Council is made up of one representative from each Trustee and is responsible for guiding the Restoration Team. The Restoration Team gives technical advice to the Trustee Council and is currently working with the public to develop the Restoration Plan for the Coeur d’Alene Basin.
|Natural Resources Trustees||Representative Agencies|
|U.S. Department of Interior||
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Forest Service
|Coeur d’Alene Tribe||CDA Tribe|
|State of Idaho||
Idaho Department of Fish and GameIdaho Department of Environmental Quality
We are different from the Coeur d’Alene Basin Cleanup (also known as the Superfund cleanup) efforts of the EPA and Basin Commission. We are tasked to act on behalf of, and in partnership with, the public to achieve natural resource restoration. Our purpose is to return natural resources to a healthy condition.
The EPA’s responsibility is to remove mine-waste contamination in a process known as remediation (cleanup). The Basin Environmental Improvement Project Commission (Basin Commission) works closely with the EPA and coordinates measures to address water quality and contamination. For both the EPA and Basin Commission, their purpose is to protect human health and the environment.How is the Restoration Partnership funded?
We are funded through settlements with Potentially Responsible Parties. Additionally, we are seeking partnerships and other funding mechanisms in order to accomplish all the restoration that is needed in the Coeur d’Alene Basin.
How can I make my voice heard?
We value your input and involvement. You can communicate with us directly in multiple ways for any reason. For instance, you should contact us if: