Court Hearing Set for Monday on Clearwater, Snake Dredging


Lower Clearwater River
  • Lower Clearwater River
A  federal courtroom in Seattle will be the scene of a hearing Monday, Jan. 5 when opponents of dredging the Clearwater and Snake Rivers appear for a hearing on a preliminary injunction. A coalition of environmentalists and representatives from the Nez Perce tribe have filed a lawsuit to stop the dredging project. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it is prepared for the massive dredging, which would remove nearly 400,000 cubic yards of sediment from the riverbed in order to clear the channel for commercial river traffic. Native American tribes say the dredging would imperil the Pacific lamprey, a ceremonial food, whose numbers have already greatly declined. The tribes and environmentalists want an injunction to put the $6.7 million project on hold until the matter is resolved.

This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports that the Corps is actually looking to accelerate the dredging project  and has secured additional funds to bring in more equipment and manpower to begin dredging.

"The Corps made available additional funds to the contract to justify directing the contractor to begin acceleration efforts," Corps spokesman Bruce Henrickson told the Tribune.

The clock is ticking, as the Corps said there's a 76-day window to complete the dredging, which originally had been slated to begin Dec.15.