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3rd Street Boat Ramp Changes

January 25, 2011
Proposed 3rd Street Boat Ramp Changes

Another listening session regarding the proposed changes to the 3rd Street boat ramp in Coeur d'Alene will be held on Thursday, Feb. 3, at 6 p.m., at Woodland Middle School, 2101 St. Michelle Avenue, Coeur d'Alene.

January 4, 2011
Proposed 3rd Street Boat Ramp Changes

BoatU.S. has recently learned of a proposal for the development of the McEuen Field Park and the 3rd Street boat ramp in Coeur d'Alene (next to the Coeur d'Alene Resort) that would potentially eliminate the boat ramp and trailer parking area there. Nationwide, BoatU.S. is concerned about maintaining access to waterways. For this reason, we wanted you to know about a public meeting organized by the Coeur D'Alene Parks Department:

  • This Thursday, January 6, 6 pm.
  • North Idaho College Student Union Building, Lake Coeur d'Alene Room, 1000 West Garden Avenue, Coeur d'Alene
If you boat in this area, we encourage you to attend, and share your perspective at this meeting.

Boaters should particularly note the following information from the Frequently Ask Questions section of the projects web page:

"9. Third Street Boat Launch:

Why close the 3rd Street Boat Launch? Isn't it one of the busiest launches in the state? Hasn't it been the main link to the lake for boats on trailers forever? What alternatives for launching are now or will be available?

The Third Street Boat Launch was built around the 1950's; some photos suggest it was here as early as the 1940's. It was used for hydroplane launches and the seawall was constructed, expanded and bolstered to accommodate the many cranes needed to launch and retrieve the hydros for each race. A private boat marina, Inland Marine, was located on the east side of the ramp where the CDA Resort is now located. The Third Street Launch saw its peak use about 10 to 15 years ago when it was known as "the busiest boat launch in the state," with approximately 7,000 boat launches per year. Since the opening of the Higgins Point Boat Launch (around 2002) and the BLM Boat Launch on Blackwell Island (around 2005), the Third Street launches have declined to 2,000 launches per year. To put this in perspective of numbers; the CDA City Park draws approximately 2,000 people per day during the peak season. The 5 launch lanes are served by 3 docks and there are a total of 48 vehicle-boat trailer spaces in the parking lot adjacent to the seawall next to the launches. (Design standards suggest 35 trailer spots are needed per launch meaning the currently limited trailer parking severely limits the launch use as a practical matter as well).

Increased activity in the downtown area and within the park in general has brought pedestrian and vehicle conflicts to the Sherman Avenue, 2nd Street, Front Avenue Street and 3rd Street areas leading to the boat launch. Special event activities to include a variety of runs, triathlons, bike events and walks have exponentially increased pedestrian traffic in this corridor making conflicting uses and safety serious issues. Vehicles with trailers also find it difficult to negotiate through the intersections in the core of downtown leading to the launch area adding to safety and congestion issues.

This site was once thought to be the best or only emergency access area on the lake. That is no longer the case as the nearest location to an accident is the best site for emergency access. If transportation of an injured person was necessary from the lake at the 3rd Street or Tubbs Hill location, that can still occur with or without a boat launch. There are additional launch sites available on the east side and west side of the lake; some are in close proximity to the Third Street site. The lake recedes in the winter time and there is a need for a longer or deeper water launch ramp. Third Street has served to meet that need, however in December, January and February when the water is low the launch records show that only about three to ten boats are launched in any of those months. Higgins Point is also a deep water launch and can accommodate the launches during the low water times as can the BLM Mineral Ridge launch on the south side of Wolf Lodge Bay. There also is a high probability of a private marina being built on Blackwell Island that will also have year around launch facilities and may be able to accommodate winter launches for a fee. A private commercial launch with a crane pad is located at the former Lafferty (Foss Maritime-Brics Marine-No. Id. Maritime) facilities across from the Yacht Club and Blackwell Island is now owned by Murphy Marine Construction.

Options for removing the boat launch and replacing its +/-50 boat trailer parking spots include:

  • Expand and/or reconfigure the Higgins Point Boat Launch parking lot managed by the Idaho Park & Rec. ITD owns property adjacent to this lot and they might entertain the idea of allowing an expanded parking lot or satellite parking. This is a year-around launch when snow and ice conditions permit.
  • Expand the BLM Blackwell Island Parking lot. Discussions with BLM indicate there is room to expand to at least 12 more parking stalls, and recent studies show more usable property may be available. This launch is open in the summer months when the water level in the river allows enough depth and flows are safe.
  • Encourage Kootenai County to resolve the property issues at Boothes Landing. This site can be used for year around launching. Paving and striping this lot for better parking organization has been delayed due to the dispute over ownership and use."

For specific questions about boating issues or BoatUS Government Affairs, please e-mail the department at
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