Osprey have been a stately presence in Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Cougar Bay for three decades, building as many as 20 nests annually on log pilings in the quiet inlet.
If their nesting area vanished, it would be a loss for the community, several landowners say.
“They started nesting there in 1969,” said Ed Haglund, who watches the fish-eating raptors from his home on Blackwell Island. “It’s the largest nesting area on the lake.”
On Thursday, Haglund and his wife, Dianne, and neighbor Sue Flammia applied for a permit from the Idaho Department of Lands to preserve the log pilings for osprey use.
Their attorney, Scott Reed, called the permit application an “unprecedented … action by private citizens carrying out public trust responsibilities.”
Department of Lands officials were not immediately available for comment.
The pilings were part of log storage operations on the lake. But Coeur d’Alene’s last waterfront sawmill closed this year, leaving the pilings’ future in doubt.
As osprey habitat, the pilings are vital, said the neighbors, who formed the Cougar Bay Osprey Protective Association. In their permit application, members said they would assume the cost of maintaining the pilings and replacing them as needed.
Another permit application is pending in Cougar Bay. North Idaho Maritime and Murphy Marine Construction want to store private docks on 10 acres of bay. Ed Haglund said the two proposals are compatible.
“We can work with them,” he said. “They have the equipment to drive new pilings and put up the nesting platforms.”
Nationally, osprey populations have rebounded since the ban of DDT, a pesticide that interfered with calcium production and led to fragile eggshells.
The birds are migratory. They return to Cougar Bay in late March or early April, and they leave for Central America in the fall.
“The osprey have become avian icons for the community,” the application says. They are “easily identifiable and of great interest in their diving, their nesting and their aerial circulation.”