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Columbian Princess Continues Ferry Service Despite Spring Runoff





The Colville Tribe has convinced the Army Corps of Engineers to help keep a daily ferry crossing the Columbia River in northeast Washington state this spring.



Lake Roosevelt is the largest reservoir on the U.S. side of the Columbia River. This time of year, the Army Corps makes room in that reservoir for runoff from Canada. That forces a yellow and blue ferry called the Columbian Princess to temporarily shut down.



But in April heavy rains caused flooding and road washouts on the Colville reservation and the ferry crossing was one of the only ways to get around.



“The ferry boat has always been something that we needed,” he ferry’s maintenance man Mark Hoffman said.



He said the boat carries vehicles all day long with fuel, food and medical supplies.





“We have a clinic up here, so the doctors are coming in and the schools—kids are going back and forth, so that’s a commute,” Hoffman said.



The river crossing at Inchelium takes less than ten minutes. The drive around takes at least two hours. Managers are concerned now about how much runoff could come from Canada. 




The Columbian Princess is the only ferry owned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It’s operated by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville. Federal funding totals $745,000 annually. On average roughly 164,000 people ride the ferry each year since it started operating in 1996.

Spring run-off usually prompts the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to temporarily shut down the Columbian Princess.
Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network
/
Northwest News Network
Spring run-off usually prompts the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to temporarily shut down the Columbian Princess.
The river crossing at Inchelium takes less than ten minutes. The drive around takes at least two hours.
Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network
/
Northwest News Network
The river crossing at Inchelium takes less than ten minutes. The drive around takes at least two hours.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Emily Schwing
Emily Schwing comes to the Inland Northwest by way of Alaska, where she covered social and environmental issues with an Arctic spin as well as natural resource development, wildlife management and Alaska Native issues for nearly a decade. Her work has been heard on National Public Radio’s programs like “Morning Edition” and “All things Considered.” She has also filed for Public Radio International’s “The World,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and various programs produced by the BBC and the CBC. She has also filed stories for Scientific American, Al Jazeera America and Arctic Deeply.