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Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office Prepares for Increase in Outdoor Recreation Enthusiasts

KOOTENAI COUNTY, ID – Memorial Day Weekend is approaching and with that, the expectation of nicer weather. As the temperatures increase, so too does the amount of recreational activities taking place. Although much of the snow has melted in the mountains, the county still has many areas that are not easily passed by wheeled vehicles. The rivers are still flowing (over 6,000 cubic feet per second on the Spokane River) and the water is still very cold (47 degrees in Lake Coeur d’ Alene today). Anyone recreating in the forested areas, on the rivers, or planning to boat should take these factors into consideration prior to departing.


As the weather progresses, recreation areas will become more congested, which leads to a greater risk of property damage and personal injury. Back Country Deputies will be patrolling the forested areas and are always willing to answer questions and provide safety information. This section also oversees the Volunteer Search and Rescue Unit, with 75 active members, all of whom have been training several times a month to remain proficient in searching for, assisting, and rescuing members of the public as required.

The Kootenai County Marine Division has 12 deputies patrolling the waterways this season, adding to the enforcement and education required to reduce damage, injuries, and death. Kootenai County has seen a decrease in serious incidents over the past several years and an increase in violations and lack of boating knowledge. During the 2023 marine season, the county recorded 3 drownings, 2 involving a vessel, although the vessel did not cause the death. There were two reports of propeller strikes due to both operator and swimmer errors (alcohol involved). Marine units also responded to one vessel explosion involving a PWC (not properly ventilated). The number of reported boat crashes has also dropped nearly in half over the past few years. Marine deputies will be completing their month of training this week and will be participating in practical on-the-water scenarios today, May 2nd. From there, they will begin patrolling the waterways of this county to help align safe and fun boating activities.

Specialty teams such as Dive, SONAR, and Air Support have been training, or plan to train to increase proficiency anticipating more calls with increased users in these recreation areas. Free education classes are available through Kootenai County or the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. Education and preparedness will add to the safety of those recreating in this beautiful region.

You can contact Kootenai County Search and Rescue or Back Country by email at [email protected] or the Marine Division at [email protected]


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