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Public Process for Snake River Dams Underway

Posted: 09/30/2016
by Thomas O'Keefe

Federal agencies in the Northwest charged with protecting endangered wild salmon and steelhead from the lethal impacts of federal dams in the Columbia and Snake rivers are holding fifteen Public Scoping Hearings this fall in Washington State, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
These Scoping Hearings represent the first phase of a court-ordered review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of salmon restoration alternatives in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. One obvious alternative is removal of the lower Snake River Dams. This spring, the U.S. District Court in Portland, OR issued a strongly-worded opinion that found the agencies’ latest plan inadequate and illegal - in violation of both the ESA and NEPA.
This is the 5th plan to be invalidated by 3 judges across twenty years. The next plan – and this NEPA Review – is the public’s opportunity to get involved and ensure that the federal agencies get it right this time!
This issue has relevance to whitewater boaters for a few reasons:
1) A restored Snake Rivers would restore opportunities for a 140 mile multi-day river trip on the lower Snake River and reconnect the river to communities like Lewiston that are currently walled off from the river. In 2002 the US Army Corps of Engineers estimated demand for paddlesports would be for over 300,000 user days following dam removal.
2) Management actions to address declining salmon runs directly impact opportunities to experience and enjoy upper tributaries like the Middle Fork Salmon River in Idaho. While these actions have been implemented, the biggest factors—i.e. Snake River Dams—affecting fish populations remain unaddressed.
3) Restoring the fishery resource in the upper Snake River on tributaries like the Lochsa, Selway, and Salmon Rivers is consistent with our mission to restore rivers. We all want healthy rivers to enjoy and productive salmon runs are part of that experience in the Pacific Northwest.
You can review the feds' calendar below and get ready to attend the hearing nearest you.
  1. Monday, October 24, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wenatchee Community Center, 504 S. Chelan Ave., Wenatchee, Washington
  2. Tuesday, October 25, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., The Town of Coulee Dam, City Hall,  3006 Lincoln Ave., Coulee Dam, Washington
  3. Wednesday, October 26, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Priest River Community Center, 5399 Highway 2, Priest River, Idaho
  4. Thursday, October 27, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Kootenai River Inn Casino & Spa, 7169 Plaza St., Bonners Ferry, Idaho
  5. Tuesday, November 1, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Red Lion Hotel Kalispell, 20 North Main St., Kalispell, Montana
  6. Wednesday, November 2, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., City of Libby City Hall, 952 E. Spruce St., Libby, Montana
  7. Thursday, November 3, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Hilton Garden Inn Missoula, 3720 N. Reserve St. Missoula, Montana
  8. Monday November 14, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Historic Davenport Hotel, 10 South Post Street, Spokane, Washington
  9. Wednesday, November 16, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Red Lion Hotel Lewiston, Seaport Room, 621 21st St. Lewiston, Idaho
  10. Thursday, November 17, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Courtyard Walla Walla, The Blues Room, 550 West Rose St. Walla Walla, Washington
  11. Tuesday, November 29, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., The Grove Hotel, 245 S. Capitol Blvd. Boise, Idaho
  12. Thursday, December 1, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Town Hall, Great Room, 1119 8th Ave., Seattle, Washington
  13. Tuesday, December 6, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, River Gallery Room, 5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles, Oregon
  14. Wednesday, December 7, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland, Oregon
  15. Thursday, December 8, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., The Loft at the Red Building, 20 Basin St., Astoria, Oregon.
  16. Tuesday, December 13, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., PST, webinar
Written comments will also be accepted through February 7th, 2017. We will provide additonal information on providing comments in the coming weeks.
Thomas O'Keefe
3537 NE 87th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 425-417-9012


Associated Rivers

Associated Projects

Snake River Restoration (ID, OR, WA)
American Whitewater is working with a coalition of partners to restore the Snake and Salmon Rivers in Idaho for fish and paddlers.