Respect the River

Respect the River Logo

Respect the River connects people to their riparian environment through EDUCATION, returning watersheds and rivers to a healthy state through RESTORATION, and involving the public in the restoration process through EMPOWERMENT. The North Fork Coeur d’Alene River and its major tributaries flow past lands managed by the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF), the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), Shoshone County, Kootenai County, and privately owned land. Two management plans have been created in response to continually increasing recreation use and impacts along the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River: The North Fork Coeur d’Alene River Cooperative Recreation Plan and the Coeur d’Alene River Corridor Management Plan.

The North Fork Coeur d’Alene River Watershed Advisory Group (WAG) developed the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River Cooperative Recreation Plan. The North Fork Coeur d’Alene River WAG is a cooperative group of citizens as well as representatives of local government, land management and regulatory agencies interested in the management of water quality within a watershed. The plan developed by the WAG focuses on recreation management along the lower 35 miles of the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River, including private and public lands, from the confluence with the South Fork Coeur d’Alene near Enaville, upstream to the mouth of Shoshone Creek in Shoshone County, Idaho.

The Coeur d’Alene River Cooperative Recreation Plan is a programmatic management tool for the 150 mile stretch of National Forest System land along the North Fork and Little North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River and its major tributaries in Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Idaho. National Forest System lands within ¼ of a mile from the center of the river are included in the analysis area.

For more information, click here.

Painting of the North Fork


Both plans share the same goals and strategies and adopt the same strategies for education. Respect the River is a multi-faceted restoration and education program designed to balance the need for preservation of riparian and flood-prone areas with needs of the public. The program seeks to do this by accomplishing the following goals:


  1. Provide recreation users with a variety of safe, enjoyable, high quality recreation experiences along the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River corridor.
  2. Restore and rehabilitate riparian areas where resource damage has occurred and prevent new impacts associated with recreational use.
  3. Educate river corridor users about the river environment, safety, recreation opportunities, leave no trace ethics, and how to avoid negative environmental impacts.
  4. Maximize efficiency and effectiveness by developing partnerships and volunteer opportunities with federal and state resource management agencies, counties, land owners, user groups and other entities.
  5. Encourage development and rehabilitation that supports the local economy by promoting existing local businesses and increasing local employment.
  6. Maintain and restore watershed, riparian, and stream channel conditions needed to conserve fish habitat for westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout, and other aquatic species, and to provide a high quality recreational fishing experience on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River.

The original Respect the River program began in 1993 on the Methow Valley Ranger District in the Pacific Northwest Region to improve fish habitat and protect endangered fish species while reducing the impacts of recreation in riparian areas. Respect the River, created to address water quality issues in heavily used areas of the Santa Fe National Forest and to meet the needs of the high Hispanic population of the southwest, began in 2001.

Friendly to both fish and people, Respect the River works on two fronts: education and restoration. The program uses River Rangers, newspaper and radio ads, brochures, and interpretive signs in combination with restoration treatments such as fence and boulder barriers, scarification, and re-vegetation. Education provides recreationists with an opportunity to be stewards of public lands and protects the investment of improving habitat.

2012 Accomplishments

River Ranger Program Through funding from the Resource Advisory Committee, the Forest Service hired a River Ranger to patrol the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. In addition to enforcing rules while on patrol, the River Ranger handed out educational materials and safety messages.

Signs and Brochures

  • “Respect the River” signs and brochures were designed and distributed. Signs were hung on bulletin boards located on Forest Service land while brochures were handed out to river visitors and local businesses.

Launch Sites

  • The Forest Service designated three boat launch/river access sites (Graham Creek dispersed site, Shoshone gauging station, and Big Hank Meadows) in an attempt to localize river access and reduce the amount of areas affected by undesignated access.

River Cleanup

  • The North Fork Coeur d’Alene River Watershed Advisory Group (WAG) in partnership with the Forest Service sponsored the first annual River Clean-Up Day on September 15, 2012. Over 40 volunteers helped remove cans, glass, garbage, and debris along eighteen miles of the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River.

Trashy Campsite

Recycling Bins

  • Two recycling bins, each able to hold two 50 gallon barrels, were constructed as a volunteer project by a Boy Scout Troup from Western Washington. Each summer, these will be placed at two locations along the lower section of the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River where a majority of river tubers and boaters gather.

Mesh Recycling Bags

  • Donations were sought from local distributors for mesh recycling bags. Multiple distributors donated bags for Respect the River. These bags can be used by tubers and floaters for cans and trash while on the water. These mesh bags will be distributed to recreationists during the summer of 2013.


North Fork Floaters


Respect the River Goals for 2013

2013 Goals will focus on Education and Outreach

River Cleanup

Signs and Brochures

  • Distribute Respect the River brochures explaining the program and post Respect the River signs promoting Leave No Trace ethics and river safety. 

Portal Maps

  • Install portal maps depicting designated river access points.

Bridge Banners

  • Display banners on bridges spanning the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River raising awareness of the Respect the River campaign. The banners will be visible to both visitors driving on the roadway and floating the river.


Adopt a Campsite or River Mile

To learn more about the Respect the River Program please contact us!

Claire Pitner
Recreation Planner
Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District
2502 E Sherman Ave
Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814

Nina Eckberg, Executive Director
Panhandle Lakes RC&D Council, Inc.
P O Box 716
7880 Franklin Street
Coeur d'Alene ID 83816

Kajsa Eagle Stromberg
Watershed Coordinator
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
2110 Ironwood Parkway
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814
(208) 769-1422
(208) 666-4633 Direct