This is the first part of a series I am beginning. I will still post on other issues and my usual stuff but I will try to post once a week on different arguments for a second diocese in Idaho.
Idaho is a large state (larger than 37 others), but the faithful only have one bishop. He is in Boise, of course. Which means he must travel all over the state to try and meet the needs of his flock. This takes him to far away parts of the state in the east and north.
While Eastern Idaho has an interstate and other highways to facilitate his travel, Northern Idaho has only one highway connecting it to the rest of the state. There will never be another highway since on either side of the existing highway is federal wilderness land. The road is slow, often narrow and dangerous. It is a trip that can only be scheduled a few times a year, unless the diocese pays to constantly fly the bishop. Bishop Michael Driscoll is a good bishop but, to better meet the needs of the Catholic population in Idaho it would seem logical to have another diocese in Northern Idaho, based in Coeur D'Alene.
Couer D'Alene and the surrounding towns still inside Idaho comprise well over one hundred thousand people. Kootenai County's population density is only surpassed by Ada County (Boise), according to a population density map by the Census Bureau. Its a thriving city that is growing at an incredible rate (an estimated 14% since 2000) along with the surrounding towns.
Moreover, the counties of Northern Idaho (Idaho County and all counties north of it) have a very significant portion of Idaho's population. Idaho has 1.466 million people by the US Census's 2006 estimate and 307, 300 live in Northern Idaho according to that same estimate. That makes about 1 in 5 Idahoans.
A new bishropic will only become more probable and more needed as time goes on and the population of North Idaho swells.