Idaho is a very special place. With its many bodies of water, Lake Coeur D’alene, Cascade, Priest and Pend Oreille to name a few. Recreational boating has always been in high demand here. 

One way that Idaho is unique is that the state has given the counties broad authority over these bodies of water, relative to boating rules. This is different from most of the contiguous United States. Inland water in most states are seen as sovereign waters of that state and are regulated by that state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

If a body of water were to cross a county line, you could in effect, have multiple jurisdictions on a single body of water. That can be problematic.

What is happening on Idaho’s waterways?

Spokane River

The Spokane River, in Northern Idaho, is in Kotinea County, and represented by three county commissioners. A small, but very vocal group of river front residents convinced a county commissioner that they needed to ban all ballasted boats on the Spokane River. We have helped the local boating community organize and file a lawsuit against the County Commissioners in an effort to stop this ban and provide time for further discussion.

Payette and Cascade

Payette and Cascade are currently in a debate about appropriate boating setbacks from shore. 


Because of Idaho’s unique county-level control, Families for Boating is leading a proposed bill in the Idaho State Legislature to let the state establish boating regulations for all lakes within Idaho.

We need your help!

Local support and action is critical to preserving access to these waterways. The residents and neighbors in the area, who know and love these lakes and rivers, are our best advocates for preventing unnecessary and damaging regulations. 

Often these new restrictions and bans are coordinated in secret, preventing adequate discussion or presentation of data, putting us at a disadvantage. So the need for robust local support when we are made aware of these proposals is key to defending and protecting our waterways.

How to get involved

There are many ways to participate and help our cause. First, reach out to your local Families for Boating representative for the latest information on current initiatives. 

Attendance at various local gatherings and county commissioner meetings is important for showing support for boating and towed water sports, as well as keeping informed on the status of new regulations and restrictions. 

Finally, and most importantly — Getting the word out! Tell your friends, family and neighbors about these proposals and encourage them to participate more so the local elected officials understand the impact of these initiatives.

We have many documents and instructions in our Resources section that can help get your local group organized and ready to speak up.

Get in touch with us