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Dredging Of Lower Snake River Channel Begins

Greg Watson
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
This dredge started work on Monday to remove a shoal near the lock entrance to Ice Harbor Dam on the lower Snake River.


Dredging of the Lower Snake River started Monday after a delay of several weeks due to a court challenge.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lined up two dredges to make up for lost time. The dredges are removing accumulated silt and shoals in the Snake River navigation channel and port berths near the Idaho-Washington border.

Grain shippers and tow boat captains are thankful to see the work begin. 

"The dredging at Ice Harbor Dam is critical,” said Rob Rich, vice president with the barge line Shaver Transportation. “The dredging at the port of Lewiston and Clarkston, critical as well. When you're in a position where you have known groundings — these are with seasoned veteran captains of 20, 30, or 40 years of experience having the same result — it is critical that it occur this year.”

Last week, a federal court judge in Seattle turned aside a request from environmental groups and the Nez Perce tribe to suspend the dredging plan. The challengers claimed the Army Corps gave insufficient consideration to dredging alternatives.

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.