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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Priest Lake cold-water bypass in wait-and-see mode

Recreation continued near Outlet Dam in Priest Lake on Monday, August 10, 2015. A proposed cold-water bypass would pump cold water from deep in Priest Lake up and over Outlet Dam. The cold water, Idaho Fish and Game managers believe, would create a vibrant trout fishery in Priest River. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

The Priest Lake cold-water bypass project is in wait-and-see mode.

In the fall, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game contracted with an engineering firm to look at alternative ways of cooling the Priest River, said Chip Corsi, Idaho Fish and Games regional manager in Coeur d’Alene.

The original idea calls for IDFG to pump colder water from the depths of Priest Lake over the dam and into the Priest River with the aim of creating a trout fishery.

The engineering firm is looking at alternate ways of cooling the river and will present IDFG with the cost of different options. Some worry the pipe will be ugly or damage the current Priest Lake ecology. Corsi said the bypass could also help mitigate the effects of a warming climate and rivers by creating a cold-water haven for trout.

Plus, he said, having a trout fishery relatively close to both Coeur d’Alene and Spokane would drive recreation and be an economic boost for the area.

“The conservation benefits and the recreation benefits are pretty high,” he said.