Federal Judge OK's Dredging of Snake, Clearwater Riverbeds


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it's ready to begin dredging the lower Snake and Clearwater rivers as soon as next week after getting a green light from a federal judge.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart rejected a challenge from environmental groups and the Nez Perce tribe, who had argued that the massive dredging project would imperil the Pacific lamprey, a ceremonial food whose numbers have already greatly declined. 

The $6.7 million dredging, which is expected to take the better part of two months, is designed to remove nearly 400,000 cubic yards of sediment from the riverbed in order to clear the channel for commercial traffic.

Steve Mashuda, of San Francisco-based Earthjustice, who is representing the environmental challengers, said his clients are assessing their next move. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Corps said the dredging project is expected to begin as soon as Monday, Jan. 12.