Bottom Barrier FAQ

Why do I need a permit for a dock from a utility company?

Avista Utilities owns and operates Clark Fork Hydro Electric Project (HEP). The HEP includes fee ownership of 4000 acres surrounding both Noxon and Cabinet Gorge Reservoirs. Avista’s license to operate (issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) requires all private recreation facilities on HEP property to be managed through a permit system.

What other type of things do I need a permit for?
  1. Adjacent landowners need a permit for all temporary recreation facilities such as a dock, lawn furniture, gazebo, trail or fire ring. Permanent facilities are not allowed. Avista property is open to the general public recreational use such as hiking and viewing wildlife and a permit is not required.
Can I get a permit in my location?

Avista permits are issued in many different areas of the HEP. You must own property adjacent to Avista property to be eligible to receive a permit. The Avista land has been put into “best use” categories. Some of the categories allow permits and others are set aside for habitat preservation and do not allow permits. “Conservation 1” lands are managed with a focus on wildlife habitat and permits are not issued. “Conservation 2” lands have a balanced approach, and permits can be issued in some instances. “Private Recreation” lands allow the greatest level of access and permits can be issued in greater numbers.

Regardless of the land category, Avista will not issue a permit in an area that has an erosive bank or other resource issue. Each request for a permit is reviewed on a case by case basis. Call Avista Utilities at (406) 847-1283 to request specific information and an application.

What should I include on my permit application?
  1. Please fill out the application completely, including photos and a map. In addition, you should include a detailed description of what the project (dock size, materials, exact location, anchoring method, trail location, width etc). Incomplete applications are often unable to be processed in a timely manner.
How long will it take to process a permit application?
  1. Permit applications are reviewed several times each year. Depending on the complexity of the request, a permit application can require 6 months to be processed. As a general rule of thumb, if you submit a thorough application in October you will have an answer by mid February, which is when the permits are mailed out.
Are the permits good forever and are they transferable?
  1. All permits are issued for one year. You do not have to re-apply for the permit each year, however you DO need to pay the annual user-fee to keep the permit in force and return a signed copy of the permit extension form that is sent out.. Permits are re-issued automatically each February as long as the permit is in good standing (i.e. the permit fee has been paid and signed document returned, there have been no violations of the permit terms and there are no resource issues at the permit site). Permits are not transferable when property is sold. The new owners must apply for a permit.
Who do I call if I want to modify my dock or work on the shoreline?
  1. Call the Avista Utilities Land Use Specialist at 406-847-1238. If the work is very complex you may need a detailed drawing including materials list. If approval is granted by Avista, please keep in mind that some work on a dock or shoreline may require other permits (county, state or federal).
What fertilizer can be used on the Avista ground?

Recent studies indicate that the phosphorus and nitrogen levels are increasing in Noxon Reservoir. Fertilizer cannot be applied to Avista owned property.

Which is why it is important for land owners to comply with the mowing restrictions (25’ from high water mark) we have in place to establish a buffer zone.

Why are there weeds in the reservoirs?

Weeds are a natural part of any waterway. The milfoil and other aquatic vegetation above Cabinet Gorge Dam are native. It is imperative that eurasion milfoil, which can be found in many areas of northern Idaho, is not transported to Noxon and Cabinet Gorge Reservoirs. Eurasion milfoil is an aggressive invader and will have significant negative impacts to water quality, fish habitat and recreational use if established.

At this time, it appears that the native aquatic vegetation is increasing. This can be attributed to several factors. Nitrogen and phosphorus levels have increased in Noxon Reservoir in recent years. This increase in nutrients fertilizes the aquatic vegetation. The longer, warmer growing seasons coupled with shorter and less intense winters also allows more vegetation growth. In addition, Avista has not drawn down the reservoir for an extended period of time recently. While this is preferable for recreation and fisheries management, it may also enhance the aquatic vegetation.

When can docks go in and when do they have to come out each year?

Docks can go in as early as April, however if you do put them in that early you will have to be careful during run off. Water levels can rise significantly in a short period of time and a large amount of debris floating downstream could be damaging to dock and subsequently the bank. Please think twice about having your dock in the water during run-off if you are going to be out of town.

Dock have to be removed by October 31st each year. If you are planning some late season boating and would like to keep you dock in a bit longer please call Avista at 406-847-1280.

What does Avista recommend to control knapweed?

Avista does not provide recommendations for chemical use. You should contact the county Extension Office.

What is the Insurance picture on the waterfront and people using my dock?

Avista is not covering any of the activities on the shoreline.

Develop your own protection Insurance plan. You might even place a sign on your dock such as “USE AT YOUR OWN RISK”.