Corps of Engineers wants to Dredge Snake Riverby Staff
Idaho Statesman, December 21, 2003
LEWISTON -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking comments through Jan. 17 on its plan to dredge the shipping channel and ports on the Snake River next winter.
The plan calls for removing 315,600 cubic yards of sediment from the river bottom and taking it to another location downstream in Lower Granite Reservoir.
The corps is mandated to maintain a shipping channel in the Snake River that is at least 14 feet deep. Sediment accumulated since the last dredging is filling the channel and making maneuvering in the berths at the ports of Lewiston and Clarkston difficult.
The dredging has to take place between Dec. 15 and March 1 when there are fewer juvenile fish using that section of river.
Environmentalists contend dredging and dumping of the sediment will harm salmon, which are on the endangered species list.
And one group says the plan looks nearly identical to the 20-year blueprint a federal judge halted two years ago.
The National Wildlife Federation challenged the corps´ plan then, successfully arguing the agency did not consider alternatives to dredging. Those include seasonal drawdowns designed to flush out sediment and better land management to reduce the amount of dirt that reaches the river.
The federation said it is prepared to go to court again to stop the current plan.
“It´s not clear to me why the corps keeps rolling out these one-year plans that are clearly illegal,” said spokeswoman Jan Hasselman.
A corps spokesman said the plan is different from the one previously halted.
“The plan we are talking about is a one-year maintenance dredging plan — not the 20-year plan that is tied up in court,” Dutch Meier said.
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