THE SIPHONING OF PRIEST LAKE - AN EXAMPLE OF TUNNEL VISION
Priest Lake - June 2019
Eric Johnson, Presdient WPLCO In an April 2008 Spokesman Review interview detailing how decisions by Idaho Fish and Game ruined Kokanee fish populations in northern Idaho lakes, Chip Corsi, Region 1 supervisor for Idaho Fish and Game, was quoted, “If we could take back the planting of mysis shrimp, we would. Many mistakes were made back then due to lack of biological knowledge and unplanned consequences occurred.”
Mr. Corsi remains as the current Region 1 supervisor; he is leading efforts to build the Priest Lake Cold Water Diversion Project.
Those seeking to siphon off millions of gallons of deep, cold water from Priest Lake around the dam and into Priest River continue to make unsubstantiated claims about their “project”. If approved, there are bound to be many “unplanned consequences”.
The Proposal: divert huge volumes of water from the bottom of Priest Lake into Priest River, so as to enhance recreational fishing in the river; lay a 5 foot diameter pipe on the bottom of the lake extending more than a mile northward; then sink the pipe into a trench nearly 10 feet deep, around the dam, then into another trench within the river itself. All this and no reliable scientific data that the river’s fish population will benefit. IDFG claims:
1. An economic benefit to the region of 3-5 million dollars/year.
2. No effect on Priest Lake aquatic life.
3. Minimal effect on Priest Lake recreational activities
4. Enhanced fishing in the river.
5. The judgement of IDFG can be trusted.
1. To realize a benefit of 5 million dollars a year would require 15,000 new fishermen per year on the river. Think winter, limited highway 57 access to the river.
2. Digging trenches in Outlet and in the river will certainly adversely affect current spawning beds, and the pipeline will further stagnate water movement at Outlet thereby exacerbating algae problems. The environmental effects are unknown.
3. Boating activities in Outlet will most likely be affected at times of low lake levels due to the presence of the submerged pipe.
4. IDFG is trying to change Priest River into a “cold water river” when it has never been a cold water river. No solid data the diversion would improve fishing.
5. It was the IDFG itself that promoted, approved, and introduced mysis shrimp, which ultimately decimated Priest Lake Kokanee – a colossal mistake by its own admission. Once again there is a “lack of biological knowledge”.
When one section of the lake is changed, eventually all the lake is changed.
Cold Water Bypass
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WPLCO Survey Results: 99% respondents oppose the Cold Water Diversion proposal, as does the East side cabin owners association.