Snake River Dredging Unlikely This Winterby Staff
Lewiston Tribune, November 3, 2004
Corps of engineers loses annual court battle with environmental groups;
The Snake River and ports of Lewiston, Clarkston and Whitman County probably will not be dredged this winter.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday it has once again lost to environmental groups in a now annual court battle over routine dredging of the shipping channel and port facilities.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik at Seattle granted a request by a coalition of salmon advocates to stop the dredging planned for this winter. The corps has not decided if it will appeal the decision.
Opponents, which include the National Wildlife Federation, Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe, contend removing silt from the river channel and disposing of it in other areas of the river will harm water quality and habitat for threatened and endangered salmon runs. The corps says the dredge spoils will be used to make shallow water habitat for juvenile salmon and steelhead, and the dredging is needed to keep the river open to barge traffic.
The corps has been trying to dredge the river since 2000 but was stopped that year by a request for more studies by the National Marine Fisheries Service and each subsequent year by lawsuits from environmental groups.
The corps is mandated by Congress to maintain a 14-foot shipping channel in the river. Port managers and shipping companies have complained they sometimes need to light-load barges to avoid getting stuck in shallow areas of the ports and the river.
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