Priest Lake fill case goes to Supreme Court

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SANDPOINT — The Idaho Supreme Court is taking up an appealed filed by a Washington state accused of unlawfully putting fill on the bed of Priest Lake.

The high court is slated to take in oral arguments on Sept. 18, according to the court’s calendar.

The Idaho Department of Lands discovered in 2014 that fill extended across 40 feet of shoreline and into the lake by as much as 25 feet, according to court documents. The department ordered the fill be removed, but Hudson refused and filed a countersuit which argued that the lake’s ordinary high-water mark was altered when the Outlet Bay Dam was installed.

The state moved for summary judgment on grounds there was no material issue of fact to litigate.

First District Judge Barbara Buchanan, however, ruled that the fill be removed last year.

Buchanan ruled that the encroaching fill was not an aid to navigation or moorage on the lake. She further ruled the state has the power to regulate encroachments on land between the ordinary or artificial high-water marks.

“Accordingly, the state of Idaho has the power, as a matter of law, to regulate and control encroachments in or above the bed of Priest Lake by requiring that a lake encroachment permit be obtained before construction of a non-navigable encroachment such as the fill at issue here,” Buchanan said in the ruling.

Buchanan filed a mandatory and permanent injunction on July 15 which orders Hudson to remove the unauthorized fill, stabilize any disturbed banks or lake bed landward of the high-water mark and implement sedimentation countermeasures while the work is being done, court records indicate.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com, by phone at 208-263-9534, and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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