Financial burden of dredging both rivers anger audience members

LEWISTON, ID - Emotions were high at the U.S. Corps of Engineers presentation, that there is a possibility of dredging within the Snake and Clearwater Rivers.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers hosted an open discussion and presentation on the need to dredge four areas within the Clearwater and Snake rivers. Three would be in the Lewiston and Clarkston area, and the fourth, towards the Tri-Cities. The topic of sediment build-up is on the forefront now more than ever, following a grain barge that became stuck just a month ago on the Snake River.

"We have hit one of those triggers for taking an action and that trigger is for the navigational channel," said US Army Corps Environmental Coordinator Sandy Shelin. "That trigger is that the channel is less than fourteen feet deep."

"Dredging is the only measure that provides the 14 foot depth, 250-feet width," said US Army Corps Project Manager Richard Turner.

An immediate plan of action with alternatives have been drawn up, but what was missing from this plan according to most audience members, was that a cost analysis has yet to be performed and no vote on the matter will ever happen.

"We're facing multi-trillion dollar budget deficits in the country and your talking about spending tens of billions of dollars, that's not cost effective," said Arrow Junction resident John Fisher.

And while no definite cost is determined on just how much this dredging could cost, local businesses are trying to re-assure tax payers and citizens that they will help out with any financial burden.

"The Port of Clarkston will help pay for the cost of dredging," said Port of Clarkston Manager Wanda Keefer.

The proposed disposal site for the dredged material is Knoxway Canyon, which should provide a shallow water habitat for salmon.