SANDPOINT, Idaho – The Idaho Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision, ordering a man to remove obstructions he placed on a lakeshore to protect his waterfront property in northwest Idaho.
Arguments in the case against Philip Hudson centered on dueling interpretations of the location of Priest Lake’s high-water mark, but the court on Monday ruled the mark was immaterial, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported.
The Idaho Department of Lands brought a case against Hudson after he refused to remove a seawall and an elevated beach, which is referred to as fill in the case. The department accused him of violating the Idaho Lake Protection Act, and a lawsuit was filed in 2015.
The department claimed the fill extended below the high-water mark established after a dam was built in 1951.
Hudson claimed the fill was on his property because it was located above the mark standard established in 1890.
The case went before Judge Barbara Buchanan last year, and the court ruled in favor of the state. The judge said the department had the authority regardless of the mark location. Hudson appealed the ruling.
In a 10-page decision written by Justice Warren Jones, the state’s highest court ruled that it is the responsibility of the department to regulate lake encroachment, and the obstructions were encroachment.
“Under either argument, it is undisputed that Hudson placed fill that extends into the navigable bed of Priest Lake,” Jones said. “It is undisputed that Hudson’s fill constitutes an encroachment.”