SANDPOINT, Idaho - The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Idaho Conservation League (ICL) filed suit last week against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Army Corps of Engineers for approving the Idaho Club’s marina and housing development along Lake Pend Oreille near Trestle Creek. The groups argued the creek is one of the most important spawning streams for federally protected bull trout in the Pacific Northwest.

“I’m highly concerned about this development’s threats to bull trout, Trestle Creek and Lake Pend Oreille,” said Whitney Palmer, a staffer for CBD. “It’s disappointing that two federal agencies authorized this incredibly destructive project. Bull trout are resilient fish, but even they can’t withstand the massive habitat destruction and increased boat traffic this project will bring near the mouth of Trestle Creek.”

The private development was first permitted in 2009 and is part of the Idaho Club golf course. It includes two new developments. It will also create a new private sandy beach along the lakeshore.

CBD said the development will reroute the North Branch of Trestle Creek, which connects the lake to Trestle Creek approximately one mile upstream, leading to bull trout spawning beds.

“Trestle Creek is the single most important spawning stream for Lake Pend Oreille’s bull trout,” said Brad Smith, ICL’s North Idaho director. “Bald eagles, deer, moose, beavers and more also thrive in this serene, hidden refuge for wildlife — that could all be lost if this harmful marina and high-end housing construction project moves forward. The area would better serve the public interest through permanent protection.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, argues the agencies didn't consider the immediate and long-term impacts of building both the marina and residential development on bull trout critical habitat, in violation of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Earlier this month, FWS found the development would have negative long-term effects to the fish, but concluded the project will not jeopardize the recovery of the species.

Bull trout have been protected since 1999, when they were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In 2010 the Service designated critical habitat for the trout, including Trestle Creek.

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