Snake River to be Dredged for Shipping Accessby Associated Press
Capital Press - August 9, 2002
SPOKANE -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has decided to dredge the Snake River for at least the next two decades, ensuring access to the inland ports of Clarkston and Lewiston, Idaho.
The corps' Walla Walla district office last week released the final report on its long-studied proposal to keep navigation open from Idaho to the Pacific Ocean.
The document for the first time authorizes regular maintenance dredging of reservoirs in the lower Snake River.
"Shipping is going to continue to be part of the district's mission," agency spokesman Duane Meier said.
The plan covers how to manager regular dredging behind Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite dams on the Snake River, and in the McNary reservoir on the Columbia River.
Construction of the dams and locks opened the way for Lewiston to become a seaport even though it is 465 miles from the Pacific. Neighboring Clarkston also has a port.
The corps maintains a 14-foot deep, 250-foot wide navigation channel between Lewiston and McNary Dam, on the Columbia River near the Tri-Cities.
The reservoirs constantly fill with sediment and have required periodic dredging in the past.
In preparing its plan, the corps considered numerous scenarios, including an end to dredging.
The alternative chosen was a combination of regular maintenance dredging, the raising of levees along the river and using the dredged material to create habitat for wildlife, the agency said.
The corps may raise some levees in the Lewiston-Clarkston area 3 feet because of increasing sedimentation in the river.
If the plan is signed by corps officials this fall, the first dredging is to begin this winter. It will focus on the Lewiston-Clarkston area and some recreation facilities and navigation lock approaches.
Dredging would start Dec. 15 and run to March 31, which would provide the least disruption to threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead.
When possible, sand, silt and gravel from the dredging will be used to create habitat for juvenile salmon and steelhead.
The agency also plans to use dredged material to develop riverside habitat at the Chief timothy State Park near Clarkston, the report said.
It also could be used to cap restored land at the Hanford nuclear reservation, for potting soil, and as fill for roadway projects.
"Opportunities to use dredged material cannot always be anticipated," said project manager Jack Sands, so study of that will continue for the 20 years.
Meier said the agency believes using the dredged material to benefit the environment is key.
"People look at an organization like us and think in terms of building stuff," Meier said.
"One of our critical agency missions is environmental restoration."
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