Corps of engineers proposing to allow lower Snake ports to dredge without adequate review

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed allowing the Ports of Lewiston, ID and Clarkston, WA to apply for separate dredging permits to remove sediment near the ports. Public comments are due Wednesday December 18, 2013.

The Corps had planned to release a final environmental impact statement (EIS) on managing the sediment built up behind the lower Snake River dams, a costly problem creating a flood risk for Clarkston and Lewiston.Other than removing the dams, the only other option for dealing with the sediment is dredging, which harms endangered salmon and steelhead and water quality.

Realizing the proposed sediment plan wasn’t going to pass legal and environmental muster, the Corps postponed its release until summer 2014, forcing the postponing of any dredging occurring until next winter. Dredging is not allowed when salmon are migrating in the river.

So the Corps is attempting to sneak dredging through without a completed environmental review or economic analysis. This end-run on the law is bad for salmon and a poor use of taxpayer dollars. 

Public comments are due December 18. Please weigh in and tell the Ports and the Corps to not dredge until the environmental and economic review is completed.  T

Talking points:

  • ·      No dredging should occur at the Ports of Lewiston and Clarkston until the Corps completes its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with completed environmental and economic review;
  • ·      The current draft EIS is seriously flawed. The Corps delayed the release of the final EIS because it realized the draft plan had serious shortcomings.  ]The Corps should not sign off on any dredging guided by an insufficient plan.  It must wait until a final plan has been thoroughly reviewed and passed legal, economic and scientific muster.
  • ·      Not only is dredging damaging to salmon and their habitat, it is an enormous cost to taxpayers. The Corps estimates that dredging the lower Snake will cost taxpayers $55 million. Dredging directly around the Ports is paid for by special taxes levied on local residents. Taxpayer dollars should not be spent on dredging not guided by sound planning.
  • ·      Use of the lower Snake waterway is in steep decline, making the dams and the waterway they provide increasingly a high cost/low value project for taxpayers and the region. Barging on the lower Snake has declined nearly 50 percent in the past 12 years, while shippers increasingly put their investments in rail and truck. So why are taxpayers being asked to shoulder more expensive dredging on an increasingly obsolete waterway without a final dredging plan even completed?

Comments must be sent to two separate email addresses. Please include your name, address and phone number in your comments.  Send comments to: or

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division

Attn: James Joyner

900 N. Skyline Drive, Suite A

Idaho Falls, ID 83402

Reference number is NWW-2013-00519 (Include this in letters and subject line of emails along with the words Port of Lewiston.) or

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Branch

Attn: Tim Erkel

P.O. Box 3755

Seattle, WA 98124-3755

Reference number is NWS-2013-00916 (Include this in letters and subject lines of emails along with the words Port of Clarkston.)

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