IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Water managers have put a surge of water through Palisades Dam in eastern Idaho to give a boost to a native fish species in the Snake River.
The surge of water is used to protect the valuable native cutthroat trout from the competitive rainbow trout.
"They can both interbreed in the same areas, in the same spawning beds. When this occurs the rainbow genes are stronger and we risk losing our pure cutthroat trout by having these invasive rainbows take over," said Gregg Losinski, Idaho Fish and Game.
Losinski said the high flows will encourage the fish to reach their spawning tributaries and only allow the Yellowstone cutthroats to breed. He also said losing the native trouts could hurt our community.
"If the fish itself were to be listed there could be various restraints put on the water and right now a bulk of that water is used for irrigation. Without that water farmers would be in trouble and everyone else who depends on it," he said.
The Bureau of Reclamation approved the water surge and a water manager said it shouldn't hurt our water supply.
"We have plenty of space in American Falls to recapture the water we've released from Palisades. There are some years when we have water, but have no place to go with it and in those years we can't exercise our option to provide spawning flows," said Mike Bues.
Officials said people should use caution on and near the cold, fast-moving water. The water level should be back to normal by the end of this week.