Environmentalists oppose Snake River dredge plans

Environmental activists oppose the federal government’s latest plan to dredge the shipping channel on the lower Snake River between Lewiston and Portland.

Dredging is necessary every few years to keep the channel in front of the Port of Lewiston deep enough for barges.  However, critics say the Lewiston seaport suffers from declining business and dredging amounts to a huge taxpayer subsidy to shippers.

Save Our Wild Salmon and a number of other environmental groups in late March submitted comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in which they opposed dredging.

The Corps is preparing an environmental impact statement for the dredging, as the agency is required by law to maintain a shipping channel that is 14 feet deep and 250 feet across. Barges can get grounded on sediment if the channel is not dredged.

The coalition of environmental groups, who tried and failed to halt the dredging the last time it occurred in 2005-2006, recently submitted comments in which they contended the Corps is not seriously looking at alternatives to dredging.

Corps officials say the agency will consider all comments before issuing a final decision this summer.

The earliest the dredging could occur is next winter.  (AP)

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