River Residents Tracking Unsafe Boaters

POST FALLS — People who live along the Spokane River in North Idaho have taken to the waterways to keep an eye out for unsafe boaters.

New construction along the Spokane River have added more than 200 new boat slips in the last year. The nine mile stretch of water between Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene is getting more and more congested and boating officials are trying to ward off a boat collision.

That’s why about 250 riverside residents have started River Watch, a grassroots program to connect residents with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office so they can get a hold of the marine deputies who patrol the river whenever residents see unsafe boating.

“Our goal is not to write tickets or bust people, but if that what to takes to get a safer river that what we’ll do but it’s a river watch program and basically that’s what it is,” Steve Shamion, president of the Spokane River Association, said.

Sheriff’s deputies say because most boaters move from lake to lake they don’t know about the hazards and rules that are unique to the Spokane River.

The Spokane River Association is handing out free maps at area boat launches with a copy of the boating regulations on the back of the map in the hopes that a little more awareness of the rules of the river will help make the waterway a little bit safer.