Fly government land-managers, conservationists, and tribal officials working to find solutions to the warm water temperatures in Idaho's Priest River.
The Priest River flows 68 miles through the remote backcountry of Idaho's Panhandle. The region is a recreation oasis for skiing, hunting, boating, and fishing opportunities. However, with increasingly hot summers the Priest River becomes unsustainably hot for many aquatic species. From Sandpoint, our overflight examined Priest Lake and an outlet dam on the south end of the lake. The dam serves to maintain water levels at the lake, creating artificially low river flows and warm conditions. The dam, built in 1950, is a key contributor to the warm river temperatures and the threats facing cold water fish like bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, and mountain whitefish.
The Kalispel Tribe, Coeur d'Alene Tribes, and numerous conservation organizations are spearheading efforts to restore the Priest River, address warm river temperatures and save healthy fish populations. The groups are focused on increasing public awareness, and are working with Idaho Department Fish and Game and other government agencies to find a sustainable solution that protects the Priest River, its fish and its recreation.