The Lake Pend Oreille, Pend Oreille River, Priest Lake and Priest River Commission, also known as the “Lakes Commission,” is based in Sandpoint, Idaho. To learn more about the make up and/or mission of the Commission, please visit the “About” page.
Lake Pend Oreille began its lake level drop from the summer pool operational range of 2062′ to 2062.5′ above sea level to a winter pool of 2051’ around September 15. The pool dropped one foot to 2061′ by the third weekend in September and then to 2060.5′ by the end of the month. The winter draw-down elevation for 2014/2015 is 2051′ and will ideally end around Nov. 8th (Idaho Fish and Game requests that it be down by Nov 15th, as a worse case scenario). This date is important to lake shore kokanee who begin spawning at this time. This full draw-down will provide the best environment for the restoration project that will take place in the Clark Fork Delta this winter.
Due to a number of Issues challenging the water levels of Pend Oreille, the local communities and the State of Idaho came together to voice their opinions at a recent Lakes Commission meeting held on October 23rd. During this meeting, it was announced by the Bonneville Power Administration(BPA), that the issue of withdrawing water from Lake Pend Oreille in August or early September (for the benefit of bull trout downstream) would be removed from the Kalispel Memorandum of Agreement(MOA). Last week the amended Kalispel MOA was released. BPA states that “Local stakeholder have been vocal about their interests for a higher Lake Pend Oreille levels for longer duration each year, and elected officials have also engaged on behalf of their constituents. In response, the Corps, BPA and the Tribe discussed how to best achieve the objective of moderating temperature impacts on bull trout, and agreed to a new process to develop additional non-operational actions to help address temperature issues downstream of Albeni Falls Dam.”
To learn more about Pend Oreille lake levels and the Kalispel MOA please visit our “Issues” page.
Priest Lake Fishery management is currently being evaluated. The main lake is dominated by lake trout which has damaged the native fishery. Lake trout are suppressed in the upper lake to help maintain a native fishery. Idaho Department of Fish and Game has decided that the lake trout suppression for the upper lake is not sustainable and is now trying to decide what to do in the next management plan. Fish and Game is currently doing a number of studies on the fish species in the lakes, as well as, on angler use on the lakes. A stakeholder group meets bi-monthly to learn about the fishery and discuss the future management of the lake. Please see the “Issues” page to learn more.