PRIEST LAKE SIPHON
FIRST TOWN HALL
December 4, 2021
It was a packed gymnasium on Sunday (nearly 140 attendees) at the Priest Lake Elementary School for the first Stop the Priest Lake Siphon (STPLS) Town Hall meeting. Attendees were polite and respectful, and many of them stood and expressed in their own words why they opposed the plan by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to build a nearly 2 mile long, 5-foot diameter siphon pipe on the bottom of the lake. Moderator Ken Hagman, a long-time Priest Lake businessman, introduced the members of the all-volunteer steering committee for STPL, as well as numerous elected officials and members of boards which oversee water and lands use in the Panhandle. A representative for Governor Brad Little was also present.
Ken kept the meeting moving along so that anyone who wished to speak could. Concerns were expressed about unintended consequences, harmful algae blooms, the visual appearance of a pipe coming out of the lake, the loss of billions of gallons of cold water from the lake, the cost of the project, the lack of confidence in the conclusions by the “experts” hired by IDFG, and the uncertainty that the diversion of all this cold water would really have a lasting positive impact on the fisheries of the river.
Several common themes were presented. First, IDFG should re-consider other options for improving the river’s fishery – using ground water as a source and/or rehabilitate the multiple streams that flow into Priest River and, in fact, supply over 50% of it volume. The second theme was that those who oppose the siphon need to contact their legislators and regulatory board members to voice their concerns.
A few attendees, speaking as individuals or as spokesmen for area fishing clubs, spoke in favor of the siphon.
When the two-hour meeting concluded, all who wished to speak had spoken, all were treated in a respectful manner, and the traits of a traditional American Town Hall Meeting had been on full display.
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