Idaho Statesman Is Snake River shipping worth enough to keep dams that harm salmon?

GT-Car-side-viewBy Rocky Barker

August 06, 2017

LEWISTON, IDL  For Idaho wheat farmers like Joe Anderson, staying competitive in international markets is critical to their future.

That’s why Anderson, a fourth-generation farmer from Genesee and a member of the Idaho Wheat Commission, met in June with delegations from China, Chile and Taiwan, negotiating contracts and showing off what the farmers can deliver. One of the advantages they tout is access through Lewiston to ship wheat on barges down the Snake and Columbia rivers, to Pacific ports.

“This river system is incredibly important as a competitive factor,” said Anderson.

Wheat farmers are nearly the only shippers still using the Snake River waterway, completed in 1975, that links Lewiston to the Pacific.

Shipping on the Snake has dropped by 70 percent since its peak in 1998. Other shippers have shifted to Puget Sound ports for hauling their products to Asia, and the various ports always had a hard time getting goods to move back upriver to Lewiston. Clearwater Paper Co., the major employer in the port 465 miles from the ocean, has moved its operations to rail — a major change from about two decades ago, the last time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies considered removing four key Snake River dams in Washington.

Read the full story here at the Idaho Statesman.

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