The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and five Lower Columbia River ports are beginning the public scoping process to prepare an integrated environmental impact statement and long-term maintenance plan for the Lower Columbia River Federal Navigation Channel. The Plan will ensure the channel, extending upstream from the Mouth of Columbia River to Vancouver, Wash., is maintained and operational at its federally authorized 43-foot depth for another 20 years. The public outreach includes a meeting in Astoria at the Columbia River Maritime Museum Tuesday, October 17, 2017.
The Washington ports of Longview, Kalama, Woodland, Vancouver and the Port of Portland in Oregon (collectively, the Sponsor Ports) are the non-federal sponsors of the Plan. The Corps and Sponsor Ports, with input from stakeholders, agencies and the public, will determine the best management plan for placing dredged material and evaluate ways to reduce the need for dredging. The planning effort will consider effects of channel maintenance on Lower Columbia River environmental and socioeconomic resources.
The Corps is the lead federal agency under the National Environmental Policy Act for preparing the EIS. The Sponsor Ports are working with the Corps as cooperating agencies under NEPA and are also responsible for actions that require compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act. A Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS under NEPA was published to the Federal Register and a Determination of Significance for SEPA was published in the Washington State Register on
Sept. 8, 2017.
"The Port of Portland, along with other Columbia River ports, depends on maintenance dredging to support our trade gateway. Maintaining the river channel at its authorized depth and width is essential to sustaining the billions of dollars of commerce that flow through the Columbia River," states Curtis Robinhold, Port of Portland Executive Director.
Vessels using the full channel depth carried about 11 million tons of export shipments worth nearly $3 billion in 2015.