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Originally published Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 9:18 AM

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Feds extend comment period for river dredging plan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has extended the public comment period on a plan to dump dredging material from an area near the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers.

The Associated Press

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LEWISTON, Idaho —

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has extended the public comment period on a plan to dump dredging material from an area near the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers.

The Lewiston Tribune reports ( http://bit.ly/XubrzL) that the Walla Walla District extended the comment period about another three weeks to April 30.

The agency late last year released its Programmatic Sediment Management Plan and environmental impact statement involving dredging the ports of Lewiston in Idaho and Clarkston in Washington state as well as the shipping channel of the lower Snake and Clearwater rivers.

The document outlines the agency's strategy of dealing with sediment accumulating behind the four lower Snake River dams. Suspended sand and silt drops out of the Snake and Clearwater rivers when flows are slowed by the dams. The sediment clogs shipping channels and recreation sites, and reduces the ability of the rivers to contain floodwater.

Since 2005, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on a plan to deal with the problem. At one time it looked like the agency might raise Lewiston's levees about 3 feet, a possibility opposed by leaders in Lewiston concerned that higher levees would cut off the community from its historic waterfront.

The agency wants to dredge more than 470,000 cubic yards of sediment near the confluence of the two rivers and dump it near Knoxway Canyon in Washington state, using it to create shallow water habitat for salmon and steelhead. But to do that the agency must first examine the environmental ramifications as required by the Clean Water Act. It must also obtain a permit from the Washington Department of Ecology.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com

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