Boundary County policy will advocate the rights of property ownership, recognizing the primacy of private property rights and the sanctity of private property ownership as enunciated in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Articles 1 and 14 of the Idaho Constitution.

Boundary County planners will recognize that property owners have the right to enjoy the use of their property in pursuit of their own best interests, both social and economic, yet recognize also that the ownership of property confers responsibilities. Use of private property should not interfere with the health or safety of neighboring property owners or occupants or deny neighboring property owners those same inherent rights.

   Boundary County land use and planning and zoning ordinances will place the minimum level of restriction and administrative requirement necessary to provide for the public weal.

   Boundary County planners will not implement any action, ordinance or administrative regulation that constitutes uncompensated deprivation of private property as defined in the state and federal constitutions, and will vigorously support county property owners from any government or agency that attempts to deny their rights of ownership without just compensation.

Back to top



   In 1997, Boundary County’s growth rate was approximately the same as that of Idaho as a whole, and there is little reason to believe that this growth will slow or reverse in the foreseeable future. County planners should anticipate continued population growth and the impacts growth will have on the county infrastructure, economy, and resource base of the county.

Back to top



   Agriculture, forestry and related enterprises have historically been the economic mainstays in Boundary County. While this continues to hold true, other factors, such as transportation, wholesaling, retailing, service businesses and governmental service have made advances in contributing to the economy in Boundary County.

   The priority of Boundary County policy and planning decisions will be the promotion of economic growth. The goal of this plan is to maintain and enhance the economic condition of Boundary County by influencing the development of policies that encourage enterprise and promote access for multiple uses of the county’s natural resources.

Back to top



   Boundary County planners will develop land use regulations that are basic, readily understandable and minimally intrusive in terms of administrative requirements. Zoning and land use regulations covering development should minimize cost to the general public and the taxpayer. Road systems and services for new developments will be provided by the developer.

   Boundary County planners recognize that they have a limited scope in the development of private land area. Free enterprise will be encouraged to allow property owners the best use of their land and its resources.

   Boundary County planners will not propose or create any regulatory department that is self-supporting.

The following sections provide more detailed guidelines on land use policy:

   Agriculture: There are currently 62,490 total acres in the county used for agricultural production. Land use policy in Boundary County should encourage agricultural enterprise and the diversity of agricultural products to retain the predominantly rural nature of the community.

   Forestry: The harvest of timber and other products from forest land in Boundary County is essential to the local economy. Planning decisions should encourage multiple uses of forest resources and promote harvest, thinning and other silvicultural practices to ensure safety and to improve the health and diversity of forest land.

   Commercial: Commercial planning in Boundary County will encourage the formation of enterprises that add value to the existing economic base. In formulating land use policy governing commercial development, consideration will be given to the impact proposed commercial enterprises will have on the current uses of surrounding lands, the impact on the flow of traffic in the area in which it is located and the demands placed on the Boundary County Landfill.

   Industrial: Boundary County policy will encourage and promote clean, low-impact industrial development in designated industrial zones. Industrial developments will be located in areas with adequate transportation capacity, sanitation and waste disposal, and water capacity sufficient to provide for business needs and fire suppression. Consideration will be given to the impact proposed industrial development will have on the Boundary County Landfill, and, if necessary to ensure compliance with Subtitle D Landfill regulations, alternate solid waste disposal requirements will be imposed on the developer.

   Residential: When practical, new residential developments should locate near

existing development to provide for the systematic expansion of public services. Boundary County will recognize and protect the inherent right of the property owner to provide gifts of land to children and family members for residential use.

   Housing: Boundary County will encourage the development of safe, adequate housing for residents, with restrictions limited to the minimum requirements of state and federal law. While recognizing the value of the Uniform Building Code, Boundary County planners will not mandate compliance with the code in the construction of residential structures.

Back to top



   The abundance and variety of natural resources in Boundary County is the foundation of the county’s economy and the basis for the quality of life enjoyed by its citizens. All public policy must be shaped to protect these natural resources to provide for the economic needs of the citizenry while sustaining the health and diversity of the environment to ensure that these resources will be enjoyed and cared for by succeeding generations.

   Boundary County has traditionally been home to a proud, independent people who worked with what was available to eke a living in an isolated and often inhospitable land. Their legacy continues today, and people here ask and expect little from government except the freedom and independence to pursue their livelihoods and happiness.

   Boundary County policy makers will recognize and respect this spirit of independence.

   Water: Boundary County receives an average of 24 inches of precipitation annually. Snow fall averages 60 to 70 inches annually in lowland areas, and 12 feet or more annually in some high-elevation areas.

   The main body of water in Boundary County is the Kootenai River, which enters the county at its eastern border with Montana and exits on its northern border with Canada. The Moyie River is the second major waterway in Boundary County, entering the county from its northern border and ending at its confluence with the Kootenai River. In addition, there are numerous creeks that feed snowmelt and rain from several mountain drainages, each emptying into the Kootenai River. A number of small lakes round out naturally-occurring surface water.

   Development in Boundary County is in most cases dependent on the availability of a reliable source of potable water, and a number of water associations have been formed to provide water to allow expansion.

   State standards and regulations will serve as guidelines to preserve the desirable qualities of surface and ground water upon which county citizens and those in surrounding jurisdictions rely, and to prevent pollution of surface and subsurface waters.

   Forests: Boundary County features an abundance of forested land, much of it located in steep areas difficult to access. Most of Boundary County’s land base is forested, and over half the land base in the county is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

   Timber, harvested from both public and private land, has traditionally played a critical factor in the Boundary County economy, and county policy decisions should support and promote sound silvicultural practices to allow continued access to public forest land for the harvest of timber and timber products at the highest sustainable level in areas deemed suitable for logging.

   In addition to timber and timber products, the forests also provide a wealth of other products. Boundary County policy shall support and encourage access for such harvest as well as other recreational uses on public lands.

   Soils: A range of soil types and compositions have been inventoried in Boundary County by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the findings of this survey should be consulted when making major land use decisions which pose a potential for degrading soil stability and in cases where development would be affected by the quality and stability of the soil.

Boundary County planners will encourage development procedures that protect against soil erosion and slide potential, and promote revegetation of exposed areas to protect water quality and improve the stability of development sites.

   Fish and Wildlife: The surface waters of Boundary County and the variety of terrain types are host to abundant native fish and wildlife, which contribute immensely to the quality of life enjoyed in Boundary County, providing quality hunting, fishing and wildlife watching opportunities enjoyed by citizens and tourists alike.

Boundary County promotes maintenance of the health and diversity of species native to the region..

Boundary County planners will play an active role in the development of public land use policies required by state and federal agencies that will impact Boundary County to assure the lowest level of adverse impact to the local human populace and to the economy of the county, and to provide the highest level of human access to impacted lands.

   Minerals: With one exception, the Idaho Continental Mine, metallic mineral extraction has had a discouraging history in Boundary County. Small ore bodies, geologic structure and the necessity of large capital investments for plant facilities before sufficient evaluation of mineral properties have been made serve to impede the development of the mineral resources.

   The generally favorable geologic environment of the county, however, warrants further exploration using more modern techniques. Minerals found within Boundary County include gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc, along with small amounts of molybdenum, nickel and tungsten.

   Non-metallic mineral resources in the county may have an economic potential greater than that of metallics. Sand, gravel and crushed rock are produced at minimal cost at various locations in the county. Deposits of sand and gravel are found in abundance at lower elevations and within the valleys. Crushed rock is obtained from crushing operations at rock quarry sites, with deposits found in various locations throughout the county.

Mining of any and all materials should be done with respect for and recognition of its impact on adjacent land, water resources and public services.

   Agriculture: Boundary County holds some of the most productive farmland in the nation, producing high yields of cereal grains on a regular basis. The most productive agricultural lands lie in the former flood plain of the Kootenai River, which have been reclaimed by an extensive system of dikes.

   In addition to the fertile valley, excellent agricultural land is also situated on the benchlands surrounding the Kootenai Valley, where considerable grain crops are produced each year and which are used for pasture and the production of alfalfa hay and other forage crops.

   Hallertau hops have played an important role in Boundary County’s agriculture economy in recent years, and the production of nursery stock has also contributed significantly and is growing in importance. In addition, agricultural producers are raising a variety of specialty crops, including horticultural crops, on a smaller scale throughout the county.

   The production of livestock and dairy cattle has declined in recent years, but remains a viable use of agricultural land.

   Boundary County planners will recognize the importance of agriculture and the role agriculture plays in maintaining the rural lifestyle for Boundary County’s citizens.

Back to top



   Boundary County planning policy will incorporate provisions to mitigate potential property damage and to protect the public safety by advising citizens of identified hazardous and geologically unstable areas which pose potential threats to private and public interests. Boundary County planners will advise developers of federal and state standards and codes pertinent to construction and development in such areas. Special development requirements will be imposed for subdivisions which affect steep hillside areas or areas prone to erosion and sedimentation.

   Floodplains: With cooperation from federal officials, flood hazard areas will be identified and proper management policies established to allow participation in the national flood insurance program.

   The hazards of development where high water tables or marshy areas prevent the dissipation of waste water, or where ground water interferes with habitation of structures, will be recognized and guarded against.

   Earthquake Zones: Boundary County is included within Seismic Zone 2 as delineated in the Uniform Building Code. This indicates that a moderate damage risk could be experienced in this area should an earthquake occur. Building methods to minimize potential damage should be used in the construction of all public buildings.

   Hillside areas: It is difficult to predict when hillside slope failure will occur, but recent experience proves that in years of high precipitation and high ground moisture saturation, slides resulting from slope failure can pose a severe risk to development and the public safety.

Developers considering building on sloped areas will be referred to the Boundary County office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Back to top



   Boundary County land use regulations and ordinances will coordinate public services to meet the needs of residents at minimal cost to taxpayers.

Public services and facilities provided for and under the direction of specific Boundary County Departments include:

   Boundary County Road and Bridge: Boundary County Road and Bridge, under the direct supervision of the Boundary County Board of Commissioners and managed by an engineer acting as supervisor, maintains over 300 miles of paved and improved roads in the county. For specific goals, see Transportation Goals and Policies.

   Law Enforcement/Justice: The Boundary County Sheriffs Department, under the direct supervision of an elected Sheriff, provides law enforcement and emergency first-response service in Boundary County, and operates the Boundary County Jail. The department conducts criminal investigations, bringing cases to the Boundary County Prosecutors office for disposition. Both the sheriffs department and the prosecutors office work closely with other law enforcement agencies working within Boundary County, including the Bonners Ferry Police Department, the Idaho State Police, Customs and Immigration, U.S. Fish and Game and others.

   Solid Waste: Solid waste collection in Boundary County falls under the purview of the Boundary County Solid Waste Department, which operates and manages the Boundary County Landfill. In recent years, the future of the Boundary County Landfill has been brought into question by Federal Subtitle D laws. Boundary County Commissioners and solid waste personnel were able to obtain a small-community exemption to avoid the necessity of prematurely closing the landfill.

   Planning decisions will take into consideration the impact of development on tonnage limits placed on the Boundary County Landfill under the Subtitle D exemption. Every effort will be made to reduce the volume of solid waste being disposed of to sustain a viable landfill for as long as possible.

   Community Hospital: Boundary Community Hospital is the main health care facility in Boundary County. The hospital is governed by an administrator and a board of trustees appointed by the Boundary County Board of Commissioners.

   Community Restorium: Boundary County is one of very few, if not the only, county in Idaho to own and operate a residential senior citizens facility dedicated to providing a comfortable home environment and independent living for this county’s senior citizens. The facility is operated and managed by the head of the Restorium Department, a commissioner-appointed board of trustees and a staff funded by Boundary County.

Boundary County will remain dedicated to the welfare of the senior citizens of the community.

   Schools: Boundary County planners will work with administrators of School District 101 to determine and fulfill the needs of the district for essential services at public school facilities located outside incorporated cities in Boundary County and support the best interest of the students attending Boundary County public schools and the will of the citizens of Boundary County as evidenced by their vote in elections called by School District 101.

   Libraries: Boundary County has one public library which has authority as a taxing district and is administered by a Library Supervisor and an elected board. County policy will support the maintenance of a library responsive to the needs of the community.

   County Fairgrounds and Parks: Boundary County owns, maintains and operates land and facilities set aside for the enjoyment of the citizens of the community. These include the Boundary County Fairgrounds, managed by an appointed board, a playground, athletic fields for softball, baseball, soccer and other sports, a picnic area, a covered multi-purpose slab and other accouterments, most located immediately west of Bonners Ferry surrounding and including the Boundary County Fairgrounds. A second separate park lies northeast of Bonners Ferry in District 2. The county also owns and maintains three boat launches on the Kootenai River, at Copeland, Porthill and at the confluence of Deep Creek.

   Citizen-formed Associations and Districts: Many of the services and facilities provided to the citizens of Boundary County are operated and maintained by volunteer associations and taxing districts created to address the specific needs of different areas of the community, and each rely on the initiative of the citizens involved.

   The list of such organizations includes but is not limited to: Numerous drainage and water districts, cemetery districts, Boundary Volunteer Ambulance, volunteer fire departments including North Bench, Paradise Valley, Naples, Curley Creek and Mt. Hall, the television translator district, the Boundary County Historical Society, etc.

   Such initiative and the spirit of volunteerism among the people of Boundary County has accomplished many essential tasks and objectives throughout the history of Boundary County. County policy will continue to support, assist and promote this spirit of neighbor helping neighbor and of neighbors working together independently to achieve a common goal for the benefit of the entire community.

Back to top



   State & Federal Highways: U.S 95, U.S. 2 and State Highway 1, which pass through Boundary County, play an important role in international transportation and serve two Ports of Entry.  Boundary County planners will work with state transportation policy makers to represent the citizens of Boundary County on issues concerning highway maintenance and safety.

   Boundary County Roads: The Boundary County Road and Bridge Department maintains over 300 miles of roads. Maintenance priorities will provide for the most efficient methods to accommodate snow removal, road repair and improvement.

   Developers of new subdivisions will be required to install durable and serviceable roads meeting county engineering specifications before those roads will be considered for county adoption.

   Residents who choose to live on private access roads and who desire the services of emergency and utility vehicles must bear the cost to build and maintain these roads to allow access. Boundary County taxpayers will not be impacted by the cost of building or maintaining private access roads.

Planning and zoning decisions will take into account the impact of proposed development on the county’s transportation network.

   Forest Service Roads: The U.S. Forest Service maintains approximately 1,000 miles of forest service roads.

Boundary County planners will continue to work with the Forest Service to ensure that the interests and expressed will of Boundary County citizens are represented.

   Air: Two airports provide services for small aircraft; the county-owned Boundary County Airport northeast of Bonners Ferry and the state-owned Porthill Airport, which serves as the International Customs Airport.

Boundary County planners should factor the airport’s capacity and capabilities into decisions involving economic development and expansion.

   Rail: Two railroad lines, the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe and the Union Pacific, pass through Boundary County, though neither line has a depot in the county.  County Planners should consider the potential of rail transportation in the economic development of Boundary County. The increased risk posed by higher rail and road traffic should also be considered, and steps taken to ensure safety at railroad crossings.

Back to top



   Boundary County is endowed with public lands unparalleled for unstructured outdoor recreation, including but not limited to hunting, fishing, hiking, bicycling, climbing, picnicking, camping, horseback riding, rafting, etc. County planning policy will encourage and promote the highest level of access to areas in which these activities have traditionally been enjoyed.

   More structured recreation is encouraged by facilities maintained by the county, including parks, playing fields and playgrounds. Additional recreational facilities to meet the needs of the community have been built by private enterprise and by volunteer effort.

Boundary County planners will continue to be responsive to the citizens of the community to ensure a variety of recreational opportunities appealing to people of all ages.

Back to top


   To insure the best possible use of the land and its resources, private free enterprise will be encouraged and promoted to the fullest extent possible. The initiative of property owners using their land to further their own economic interests will be encouraged.

Back to top