What Future for the Lower Snake River Waterway?

navigationIn late 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers’ in Washington State released a document and started a critically important conversation about the future of the lower Snake River waterway – and its use as a barge transportation corridor. It’s a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) about sediment management for the waterway. Save Our wild Salmon, in concert with several others groups and the Nez Perce Tribe, has begun work to understand this Dredging DEIS, how the Army Corps would like to manage sediment, shipping and taxpayer dollars in the Lower Snake River for decades to come. The results of our collective research culminated in extensive comments that we submitted in late March before the comment deadline. 

Though the Army Corps is not explicit, the future of the waterway as a transportation corridor is this document's real subject and issue. Read below to learn how this new regional discussion is taking shape. Local citizens are challenging the Army Corps' numbers and analyses. Understanding the actual value of this waterway in the 21st Century - its costs and benefits - and who pays and who benefits - and its risks, must be the foundation for any decisions about its future. Freight transport options in and out of the Lewiston/Clarkston area are essential for local farmers and other businesses, but shipping alternatives exist and these need to be part of this larger discussion.  

Lewiston port had difficult fiscal 2014

October 9, 2014


PortofLewistonThe Port of Lewiston lost $445,497 on its day-to-day operations in fiscal year 2014 as cargo leaving the area in containers continued to slump.

The figure signals a continuation of a trend that emerged last year when the port lost $92,435 in the same area, according to an audit port commissioners reviewed Wednesday.

Numbers include revenue from use of port-owned properties and its container operations, which have historically funded routine port functions.

They exclude money the port receives from property taxes, land transactions and government grants, which equaled $2.2 million in 2014, according to the audit by accounting firm Presnell Gage of Lewiston.

Revenue dropped by almost $125,000, to $1.3 million in 2014, as expenses rose from $1.5 million to $1.7 million.

One of the reasons there was less money available involves container volumes. The number of containers the port handled fell to 4,439 in 2013, compared with a high of 17,611 in 1997. This year, the port has handled 2,108 containers through the end of September, compared with 3,205 in the same time last year.


Tell the Corps: Stop wasteful spending. Protect our wild salmon!

Please submit your official public comment to the Army Corps of Engineers: ask it to stop spending public money to dredge the lower Snake River unless and until an honest economic analysis shows these four dams’ benefits outweigh their tremendous costs to the public, to salmon and steelhead, and to water quality and the river's health.

Click here to send a pre-written, editable letter. The deadline is Sept 22.

The Army Corps of Engineers is once again proposing expensive dredging in the lower Snake River without justifying the costs to the public - or addressing harms to water quality or endangered wild salmon and steelhead.

In August, the Corps released its 2014 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) proposing a taxpayer-financed plan to "manage" the millions of tons of sediment piling up behind Lower Granite Dam on the lower Snake River. It is accepting public comment until Sept 22.

Lower Snake River sediment is a big problem - one of many problems created by the four lower Snake dams.  In just a few decades, millions of cubic yards of sediment have settled in the reservoir behind Lower Granite Dam near Lewiston (ID) and Clarkston (WA). It's created an ever-worsening flood risk for these towns and huge expense for American taxpayers.


Lewiston Morning Tribune: Dredging on docket for Snake River

FEISBy Eric Barker

Friday, August 15, 2014

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final plan and environmental impact statement Thursday to manage sediment in the lower Snake and Clearwater rivers.

The plan, which is 3,905 pages long and cost $16 million to prepare, calls for dredging the navigation channel of the lower Snake River at the confluence of the Clearwater River as early as between Dec. 15 and Feb. 28 this winter. It also identifies a number of other tools the agency can use to manage sediment accumulation over the next 20 years. The agency has been working on the plan since 2005.

Included in the tools that can be used to manage sediment is raising the levees at Lewiston, a move that has been unpopular with residents of the town that bills itself as a seaport. However, corps spokesman Bruce Henrickson said the only short-term action being proposed at this time is dredging at the confluence of the lower Snake and Clearwater rivers and at the downstream approach to the navigation locks at Ice Harbor Dam.

"We are not proposing to raise the levees at this time or for the foreseeable future," Henrickson said. "That tool remains in the toolbox, as well as others."


Lewiston Morning Tribune Letters to the Editor re: Port of Lewiston, economics of the waterway, and Highway 12 'megaload' traffic

Spring 2014lmt

The following letters to the editor were published in recent weeks by the Lewiston Morning Tribune concerning the plans, programs, and policies of the Port of Lewiston, sent by residents of Lewiston or nearby communities.

Letter to the Editor #1:
The Port of Lewiston's website says, "...a primary objective of the Port is to encourage economic growth..."  But the port's budgeting money to promote megaload traffic at the port dock and take legal action toward megaload access to U.S.12 veers money away from the port's objective.  

Oh yes, megaloads benefit somebody:  1) Asian equipment manufacturers and 2) the Canadian tarsands corporations for whom the Asians get paid (low wages) to make equipment.  What the port's attempts to lure megaload traffic does primarily is facilitate the export to Asia of what could otherwise be North American manufacturing jobs.

And while facilitating the export of jobs, the port would be helping Canada's corporations damage one of Clearwater country's important industries:  tourism/recreation.  Recreationists and travelers visit scenic places, not industrial truck routes.  The port would also be back-handing our area's 3rd largest employer, the Nez Perce Tribe, which right now is fighting in court to have megaloads banned from the Wild and Scenic Lochsa-Clearwater U.S.12 byway.  The port would further be disregarding the economies and character of downtown Moscow and Coeur d'Alene along U.S.95, for which megaloads have also been proposed.  Along both U.S.95 and U.S.12, the port would be negatively affecting real estate values based upon 'scenic' vs. 'industrial' locations.   

So the port's promotions and legal action get a "none-of-the-above" rating for "economic growth."  Port commissioners need "primary objective" target practice!  All they'll "grow" with megaloads is grating relationships with fellow north central Idahoans, economic instability and decline!

Borg Hendrickson


Lewiston Tribune: Activists descend on Lewiston port hearing

PortofLewistonBy ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune | Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 12:00 am

Megaload opponents and tax activists forced Lewiston port officials Wednesday to disclose how they expect to find customers for their recently expanded container dock.

Information, however, was the only concession offered at a lengthy, sometimes testy hearing. It ended with port commissioners passing a $1.9 million budget for the 2015 fiscal year without changing anything, including a $450,000 annual property tax levy for Nez Perce County residents.

Among the more than 15 people who attended the morning meeting was Linwood Laughy, a Kooskia-area resident and leader of megaload opponents. He met Port Manager David Doeringsfeld for the first time.

Carla Timentwa, chairwoman of the Nez Perce Tribe's General Council, identified herself as one of the people arrested last year during megaload protests.

She wondered whether the port should be supporting activity in the oil boomtowns of North Dakota because of the violence associated with the rapid growth, which has victimized innocent bystanders.
Nez Perce County property owner Rick Rupp, who lives in Bend, Ore., had a different concern.

"I'm very disappointed, shocked and amazed this port did a dock expansion," Rupp said. "I can see absolutely no justification for it."


Lewiston Morning Tribune: New economic data emerges in dams debate

Tow 1171Former corps employee says breaching some Lower Snake dams now makes sense

By ERIC BARKER of the Tribune, Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jim Waddell thinks the film "DamNation" can be a catalyst for people like him - a veteran of the federal bureaucracy - to step up and speak out about dams and fish.

Waddell was the top civilian at the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 when the agency was wrapping up a five-year, $20 million study to determine if the four Lower Snake River dams should be modified but kept or breached to save threatened and endangered salmon runs.

In the film, which will be shown tonight at Moscow's Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre, Waddell reveals that he advised his higher-ups to seek congressional authorization to breach the dams.

"I recommended breaching based on me, at the time, not being comfortable with the economics," he said in an interview.

There were too many inconsistencies with the economic portion of the study that showed breaching the dams would cost about $246 million a year, while making them more fish friendly would produce a modest annual benefit. Waddell said he found problems with some of the numbers and some of the assumptions that were used to produce the economic analysis. But he wasn't able to pull the study back to fix the problems.


More Articles...

  1. Apr 12, 2014 - Lewiston Tribune: Group says megaloads threaten rivers
  2. Mar 26, 2014 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Lock repair at Little Goose has shippers scrambling;
  3. Jan 15, 2014 - High Country News: Megaloads and wild–and-scenic rivers don’t mix
  4. Dec 17, 2013 - Protect the Lower Snake-Oppose Harmful, Unlawful Dredging!
  5. Dec 04, 2013 - Lewiston Tribune: Getting to the bottom of the issue
  6. Nov 14, 2013 - Lewiston Tribune: Dredging up an endless debate
  7. Oct 25, 2013 - Lewiston Tribune: Megaloads company gives up legal fight
  8. Oct 23, 2013 - Wall Street Journal: Road Too Far: GE Strains to Deliver Energy Colossus
  9. Oct 07, 2013 - Lewiston Tribune: Much more McGregor
  10. Oct 07, 2013 - Lewiston Tribune: Bye-Bye to barging on the Snake, Clearwater?
  11. Sep 27, 2013 - Al Jazeera: Tribe fights to save historic river way
  12. Sep 27, 2013 - Lewiston Tribune editorial: Idaho lost more than a megaload court case
  13. Sep 27, 2013 - New York Times: Fight Over Energy Finda a New Front in a Corner of Idaho
  14. Sep 17, 2013 - Spokesman-Review Editorial: Thorough, fair ruling for U.S. 12 megaloads
  15. Sep 17, 2013 - Lewiston Tribune: Judge suspends megaloads
  16. Aug 19, 2013 - Seattle Times: Snake River barging drop: new factor in dams debate?
  17. Aug 16, 2013 - For Immediate Release: Corps Delay to Dredge Lower Snake Shows Need for More Study
  18. Aug 08, 2013 - Nez Perce Tribe Blockades Tar Sands
  19. Jul 26, 2013 - SOS Letter to Forest Service re: megaloads and salmon
  20. Jul 22, 2013 - For immediate release: Five myths about freight transportation on the Lower Snake River
  21. Jun 28, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Port of Lewiston meeting takes an existential turn
  22. Jun 07, 2013 - LMT Guest Opinion: If you do the math, dams don't add up
  23. May 05, 2013 - Spokesman Review guest opinion: It’s time to assess use of shrinking tax dollars on lower Snake River dams
  24. Apr 23, 2013 - AP: Dredge plan draws opposition
  25. Mar 07, 2013 - Old Arguments, New Realities
  26. Mar 07, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune Editorial: Don't take Linwood Laughy's word for it
  27. Jan 25, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Dredging costs rise to top of meeting
  28. Jan 24, 2013 - Rocky Barker Blog: Corps faces a fight over dredging behind Lower Snake dams.
  29. Jan 24, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune Editorial: Judging River Dredging Plan By the Numbers
  30. Jan 23, 2013 - The Sediment Statement and the Lower Snake River Waterway
Save Our wild Salmon is a diverse, nationwide coalition working together to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the rivers, streams and marine waters of the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of our region's ecology, economy and culture.



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