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 Corridor Management 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.

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View of the North Fork Coeur d'Alene River.




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.

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.


River Ranger Program

  • In 2012, the Forest Service hired a River Ranger to patrol the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River to enforce rules and hand out educational materials and safety messages. After several seasons, awareness of responsible use has grown and recreationists are taking more pride in their river resource.

Grand Prize Winner with Smokey Bear

Signs and Brochures

  • “Respect the River” signs and brochures have been designed and distributed. Signs are posted on bulletin boards located on Forest Service land and brochures are 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. In 2014, the Forest Service, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and North Idaho Flycasters Association worked together to improve the launches at Graham Creek and Shoshone Gauge site by improving access and placing rock at the sites.

River Cleanup

  • The North Fork Coeur d’Alene River Watershed Advisory Group (WAG) in partnership with the Forest Service has sponsored three well-attended River Clean-Up Days since 2012. Volunteers have helped remove cans, glass, garbage, and debris in and along about 20 miles of the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River.

Trashy CampsiteScuba divers cleaning debris out of the river.

 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 are currently placed at Albert's Landing along the lower section of North Fork Coeur d’Alene River where many river tubers and boaters take out.

 Pile of aluminum cans collected near the river to be recycled.

Mesh Recycling Bags

  • Donations were sought from local distributors for mesh recycling bags. Multiple distributors donated bags for Respect the River. These bags are distributed to recreationists to use for cans and trash while tubing or floating on the water.

North Fork Floaters











 Bridge Banner

  • A large banner was created and is displayed on a highly visable bridge near Enaville, raising awareness of the Respect the River campaign.


Future Goals


  • Develop and share maps depicting recreational facilities and designated river access points along the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River.  Install maps at major river portals.



  • Improve access, parking, garbage, and recycling opportunities.


Education and Outreach

  • Develop a “Respect the River” curriculum to incorporate into conservation education programs and events. Organize river-based conservation events to engage the community in hands-on projects and learning opportunities for resource protection and enhancement.