In hot water - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

In hot water

Idaho DEQ says temps are too warm for trout

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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 12:00 am

We like our fish cooked... But not before we catch them.

So all this sun lately is unfortunate.

Elevated water temperatures in North Idaho are creating potentially lethal environments for trout, according to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Recent analyses show that nearly 900 miles of streams in Kootenai and Shoshone counties are heating up as high as 80 degrees Fahrenheit, confirmed Kajsa Stromberg, DEQ spokesperson.

"That's pretty warm even for people. So it's very warm for trout," Stromberg said.

Optimal water temperatures for cold-water trout are lower than 55 degrees in the spring, she added.

"I'd say its a pretty common issue, for the streams to exceed our criteria," Stromberg said.

The North Fork Coeur d'Alene River Sub basin is currently most affected by this sauna treatment, caused by excess sun exposure and lack of shade.

That's dangerous for cold-water trout like Westslope cutthroat trout, Stromberg said, the most common fish of the streams.

If the heat persists, they will suffer more illnesses and potentially die, Stromberg said.

"Trout are very sensitive to warm water temperatures," Stromberg said.

Besides disrupting the area's ecosystem, losing the fish would disappoint a lot of people, too.

"They're a very popular fishery. Very popular with the anglers," Stromberg said of the streams. "And for a lot of people, just the fact that they're out there is important. They're really beautiful."

The DEQ has a plan.

Add more shade.

The agency is currently collecting public comment on a proposed plan to address the high sub basin temperatures.

The plan includes introducing more rock structures and logs to help narrow and deepen the channel, Stromberg said. Shoreline trees would be left alone, instead of harvested by the U.S. Forest Service.

The agency would also ensure the fish would have access to cold-water channels and springs.

"Some of it is going to be something that will be voluntary, carried out by landowners," Stromberg said of channel and shoreline work. "We could go into a cost-sharing agreement for planting, or they could plant trees on their own."

The goal is to bring the water bodies into compliance with state water quality standards.

"What we try to do is get as close as we can to natural background conditions," Stromberg said.

The proposal document can be downloaded on the DEQ website, at The document, Draft Upper Coeur d'Alene River Sub basin Temperature Total Maximum Daily Loads Addendum, is listed under Public Comment Opportunities.

Written comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. on April 10. Comments can be emailed to, or mailed to DEQ Coeur d'Alene Regional Office/2110 Ironwood Parkway/Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814.

Public comments will follow with a public meeting. The draft will then be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency, Stromberg said.

There should be no delay on starting the projects, she said.

"It's going to take some time," Stromberg said of improving the stream channels and shorelines. "It takes a long time for these trees to grow."

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  • Idaho Roper posted at 1:42 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Idaho Roper Posts: 117

    Nope, just fact......gloBULL warming is just that....Bull.

    But I wouldn't expect a shallow thinking socialist to get that, The real science is in....Al was wrong! Perhaps that's why he sold out to the oil companies.

  • Idaho Roper posted at 1:37 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Idaho Roper Posts: 117

    It seems YOU are the one with the criteria problem. The fishery is doing more than spectacularly and in fact, the fish are becoming stunted from over population.

    But then, I guess you need a job and have to find something..........

  • Idaho Roper posted at 1:34 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Idaho Roper Posts: 117

    Oh brother.....another gov't welfare program. The author should be ashamed of herself, with a little more effort you could have been totally misleading.

    "Instead of the Forest Service harvesting them"
    The FS hasn't cut a log near the river in decades.

    "natural background conditions"?
    Give me a break, our rivers haven't changed 'background' conditions in over 40 years. But adding rocks and dumping some logs is going to fix this? I wonder if this gov't welfare employee realizes these rivers FLOOD every spring, they wash rocks and logs wherever it happens to wash them.

    It was incredibly poor writing and made it sound as if the water was 80 right now, please Alecia....go jump in and see how warm it is.

    The CDA river is stuffed with trout, the only problem they face is over population created out of restrictions on fishing.

    This type of idiocy gives me a stomach ache.

  • local res posted at 10:49 pm on Tue, Mar 12, 2013.

    local res Posts: 1165

    Anther attempt to waste money

  • local res posted at 10:48 pm on Tue, Mar 12, 2013.

    local res Posts: 1165

    The temps rise when the floaters pee in the water.

  • aayupp posted at 4:51 pm on Tue, Mar 12, 2013.

    aayupp Posts: 317

    "They're a very popular fishery. Very popular with the anglers," Stromberg said of the streams. "And for a lot of people, just the fact that they're out there is important. They're really beautiful."

    who are you and what do you know at all about fisheries. these streams are plenty cool enough dear lady and they have good oxygen, lots of shade, and they are full of trout! lots of riffles so i guess i dont think you know what you are talking about. sure if you get down low in the river where it slows but it also gets much deeper and the fish find the cool zones during the heat of the summer.

    stakeholders??? give me a brake will ya?????????? alecia - you make little sense with this article. and then this . "We like our fish cooked... But not before we catch them." we stakeholders are not allowed to keep any anyways -- we have to turn the pretty cutthroats back into the ecosystem where apparently they may die soon anyways by your article.

  • babydriver posted at 2:14 pm on Tue, Mar 12, 2013.

    babydriver Posts: 1393

    Sounds like BS to me.

  • WaterQuality posted at 10:52 am on Tue, Mar 12, 2013.

    WaterQuality Posts: 2

    I’d like to thank Alecia for this article, and helping get this information out to the public. Feedback from our community and stakeholders is very important to me.

    I would like to offer some more information about stream temperatures in the North Fork Coeur d’Alene Subbasin that might be helpful. Most of the streams are quite cold for most of the year (especially by human standards). It’s generally in the late summer and early fall that warming stream temperatures exceed our criteria and can be harmful to fish or other aquatic organisms. It’s actually rare for the waters to heat up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but we have recorded temperatures of 75-80 degrees in some parts of the river during late summer. There's more information in the draft document itself if you're interested.

    We are lucky to have a great fishery for trout in the North Fork and we can work together to keep it that way. You can contact me directly for more information or to get involved with the North Fork CdA Watershed Advisory Group. See the article for contact info. Thank you!

    Kajsa Stromberg
    Watershed Coordinator
    Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

  • The Simple Truth posted at 9:52 am on Tue, Mar 12, 2013.

    The Simple Truth Posts: 563

    Yeah, danged liberal thermometer!

  • Uzzi posted at 9:03 am on Tue, Mar 12, 2013.

    Uzzi Posts: 1

    I thought it was freezing outside... How is the water temp above 80 degrees?

  • voxpop posted at 8:34 am on Tue, Mar 12, 2013.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    This is absolutely absurd. Been talking to Al Gore again Alecia?

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