Outdoors

Dredging's impact on Snake River fish quietly debated

This photo of Granite Point on the Snake River was taken before Lower Granite dam inundated the canyon in 1975. 
  (Kyle Laughlin  / Idaho libraries/special collections)
This photo of Granite Point on the Snake River was taken before Lower Granite dam inundated the canyon in 1975. (Kyle Laughlin / Idaho libraries/special collections)

RIVERS – The Corps of Engineers’ plan to dredge portions of the Lower Snake River is a touchy issue politically, economically and in regard so salmon and steelhead.

I know this because none of the fisheries biologists I contacted this month would comment. They all referred me to managers who referred me to documents their agencies were filing – on or after the public comment period that ended Tuesday for environmental impact statement on the Corps’ sediment management plan,

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game submitted comments to the Governor's Office to be incorporated into a package of State comments on the draft EIS.

Dredging is proposed at three sites in Lower Granite Reservoir and below Ice Harbor Dam because sediment buildup, an expected problem associated with dams, is interfering with commercial navigation.

Sam Mace of Save our Wild Salmon, says there’s a better idea that would be cheaper and more sustainable in the long run:   Breach the dams.

Maintenance and operations costs for the lower Snake River barge transportation corridor greatly exceed its economic benefits, she says.

“With a growing project backlog and deepening federal deficits, these new analyses raise serious questions about the lower Snake waterway’s economic viability, and its burden to local communities and American taxpayers.”

The byproduct of such economic responsibility would be boosting endangered salmon runs with a natural, free-flowing river.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

By Rich Landers richl@spokesman.com (509) 459-5508


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