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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Gov. Inslee asked to support Spokane River flows

Spokane River flows have been lower and warmer than average in 2015. (Rich Landers)
Spokane River flows have been lower and warmer than average in 2015. (Rich Landers)

RIVERS – Environmental groups are asking Gov. Jay Inslee to increase the summer time flows of the Spokane River, to improve recreation and to maintain the scenic falls in the middle of the state’s second-largest city.

The groups on Tuesday asked Inslee to revisit an April decision by the state Department of Ecology, in which the agency rejected a petition filed in February requiring more water in the river.  

The request by the Western Environmental Law Center also was sent to Jon Snyder, who left his post as Spokane City Councilman to move to Olympia as Inslee's policy advisor for Outdoor Recreation & Economic Development.

The environmental groups say they are seeking to avoid litigation.

The governor has 45 days to respond to the citizens’ petition filed by the Sierra Club, Center for Environmental Law & Poliy and American Whitewater. A spokeswoman says Inslee is aware of the issues and will review the letter.

The groups seek a minimum summer flow of 1,800 to 2,800 cubic feet per second in the river, to support fisheries and recreation.

But the Department of Ecology set river flows at just 850 cfs.

“Excluding rafters, kayakers, and canoeists in setting flows sets a dangerous precedent for Washington State’s rivers,” said Thomas O’Keefe, Pacific Northwest stewardship director for American Whitewater “Our state’s river face many demands but ultimately we have a collective responsibility for the stewardship and protection of our state’s rivers, and Department of Ecology must protect the diversity of beneficial uses our rivers provide including recreation.”

“Gov. Inslee has expressed his commitment to encouraging outdoor recreation in the state of Washington and this petition to amend the Spokane River Instream Flow Rule gives him the opportunity to do just that,” said Andrea Rodgers of the Western Environmental Law Center. “We are asking the governor to ensure that recreational uses of the river are not only considered, but protected, as is required by law. The ball is in Gov. Inslee’s court to do what is right for the river so future generations of Washingtonians can recreate on the river for years to come.”

Outdoors blog

Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.

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