U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution

Project Case Summary

Coeur d´Alene Lake
Lake Management Plan
2005-2009

Location: Coeur d´Alene, Idaho

Background:

Mining upstream of Lake Coeur d ´Alene in the Silver Valley resulted in the deposition of sediments containing zinc, lead, and other dissolved metals around the bottom of the lake.  In 1998, U.S. EPA initiated a Superfund action upstream of the lake. Part of that action assumed successful negotiation of a revised Lake Management Plan (LMP) for Lake Coeur d´Alene as a way to address potential issues related to metals in the lake sediments. The Coeur d´Alene Tribe and the State of Idaho cooperated on aspects of lake management but were unable to reach agreement on an updated LMP. In late 2005 the U.S. Institute partnered with the EPA's Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center to work with representatives of EPA Region 10, the Coeur d´Alene Tribe, and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality on the feasibility of a negotiated LMP for the lake. The U.S. Institute convened the parties and selected a third party mediator to conduct an assessment and recommend options to the group about how to proceed. The assessment highlighted that Coeur d´Alene Basin citizens agree broadly on the importance of protecting the lake yet there are diverse perspectives about how to achieve lake protection.

Upon the completion of the assessment the Tribe and State agreed to engage in mediated negotiations aimed at reaching agreement among the parties on a draft LMP. The negotiations included opportunities for substantial input from and engagement with key stakeholders, followed by a subsequent phase involving broader public comment on the draft LMP and efforts to build support for implementation, including funding. Negotiations lasted just over a year and concluded when IDEQ and the Tribe reached agreement on a draft 2008 LMP and released that document to the public on June 24, 2008. The U.S. Institute's role concluded at this point in the process. The LMP was subsequently signed in 2009.  It is important to note that the negotiation process improved working relationships and built trust among the parties.

Results and Accomplishments

The assessment highlighted that Coeur d´Alene Basin citizens agree broadly on the importance of protecting the lake. This shared agreement was an important part of the foundation to support LMP negotiations and subsequent implementation.

In addition to the draft LMP, the negotiation process improved working relationships and built trust among the Parties. At present, the Parties have agreed to hold quarterly meetings with Kootenai, Benewah and Shoshone counties to address substantive issues raised by the counties. A signing of the LMP is anticipated in the spring of 2009.

Highlights/Innovation

As a result of the LMP negotiation, the Parties and citizens in the Coeur d´Alene Basin have an opportunity to forge a new vision of respectful collaboration as the revised plan is implemented, a vision that reflects the Tribe and the State jurisdiction of the Lake and takes into consideration the Basin's complex terrestrial jurisdictions and authorities in order to maximize the potential for successful lake management.

Credits

Partner from National Roster of ECR Practitioners and Native Dispute Resolution Network

J. Michael Harty, Harty Conflict Consulting & Mediation

U.S. Institute Project Lead

Sarah Palmer, Senior Program Manager
Native American and Alaska Native
Environmental Program
Phone: (520) 901-8556; FAX: (520) 901-8557
Email: palmer@ecr.gov; Website:www.ecr.gov



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