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Two conservation groups question Coast Guard’s turnabout on St. Joe jet boat race

Two North Idaho conservation groups, Friends of the Clearwater and the Kootenai Environmental Alliance, are questioning the U.S. Coast Guard's turnabout on permits for the upcoming “Race the Joe” jet boat race on the St. Joe River near St. Maries, allowing the race to go forward as scheduled May 17-19. “We’d like to know how the Coast Guard went from needing 130-something days to complete the environmental assessment to being able to complete it in a week,” said Brett Haverstick of Friends of the Clearwater. “With that kind of speed, the Coast Guard should consider entering the race.” Click below for the two groups' full statement.

Both Gov. Butch Otter and three members of Idaho's congressional delegation appealed to the Coast Guard to issue the permit in time to allow the event to take place as scheduled; Otter also sent a memo from Idaho Fish & Game saying the event wouldn't harm bull trout or bald eagles if organizers agreed to keep people and vehicles out of buffer zones around eagle nesting sites.


For Immediate Release

May 15, 2013

 

Conservation groups question permit for 1st Annual Race the Joe! 

Coeur d’Alene—Conservation groups are disappointed and concerned with the announcement that the US Coast Guard has changed its tune and issued a permit for the 1st Annual Race the Joe! jet boat race scheduled for May 17-19 on the St. Joe River. Before political interference from Idaho’s congressional delegation and Governor C.L. “Butch”Otter, the agency had indicated that it was required by law to review the permit request and adequately conduct an environmental assessment. The lower stretches of the St. Joe River provides critical habitat for bull trout and offers nesting sites for bald eagles.

“We’d like to know how the Coast Guard went from needing 130-something days to complete the environmental assessment to being able to complete it in a week,” said Brett Haverstick, Education & Outreach Director for Friends of the Clearwater. “With that kind of speed, the Coast Guard should consider entering the race.”

Along with the speed and loudness of the jet boats and their potential impacts, the US Coast Guard had also indicated that they were concerned with possible erosion and water quality from boats racing up a 25-mile stretch of the St. Joe River.

“We are very concerned about the lack of public involvement and environmental analysis being conducted by the US Coast Guard and other involved agencies, said Adrienne Cronebaugh, Executive Director of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance. “Lots of time and money has been invested in riverbank stabilization along the St. Joe and this could set things back and actually accelerate erosion.”

The groups also wanted to draw attention to the fact that the bald eagle is a national symbol, and yet, nests on the river may get abandoned due to the noise and traffic, resulting in the death of juvenile eagles.

“The American people need to be aware that elected officials from Idaho would rather see diesel-engines screaming up our waterways than migratory bald eagles nesting in tree-tops,” said Brett Haverstick. “So much for patriotism and our national heritage.”


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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