The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is studying the feasibility of using cold water to improve trout habitat and fishing opportunity in the Priest River. An alternatives assessment was recently completed to explore potential engineering alternatives that would meet temperature needs for cold water fish in this 45 mile stream that runs from Priest Lake to the Pend Oreille River. The results from this assessment will be shared at an open house at Priest Lake Elementary on Thursday June 20 from 3-6 p.m.
The purpose of the open house is to share results from the engineering alternatives assessment. No decision has been made to construct any of the proposed alternatives. The alternatives assessment is an early step in the process to help determine project feasibility. Additional study is needed before any decision on moving forward with a project is reached.
During most summers, Priest River is too warm for native fish species like westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout to thrive in. The stream is classified as water quality impaired due to temperature. Historical stocking of rainbow trout proved unsuccessful in improving the fishery, attributed to summer water temperatures that climbed above 70°F.
Contracted engineers explored four cold water delivery alternatives in this assessment:
- Pump system
- Siphon system
- Gravity fed system
- Groundwater well system
All the alternatives are compatible with statutory lake level management, navigation and safety requirements.
Engineers along with Fish and Game staff will be available at the open house to answer questions and take comments. The public can arrive any time between 3 and 6 p.m. Priest Lake Elementary is located at 27732 Highway 57, Priest Lake.
For questions about the open house please contact the regional communications manager, Kiira Siitari, at 208-769-1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.