The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and five Lower Columbia River ports are embarking on a joint environmental impact statement (EIS) and a 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 43-foot depth for another 20 years.
The Corps of Engineers is the lead federal agency under the National Environmental Policy Act for preparing an EIS. The Ports of Longview, Kalama, Woodland and Vancouver (Washington Ports) and the Port of Portland in Oregon (collectively, the Sponsor Ports) are the non-federal sponsors of the plan. As the non-federal sponsors, the Washington Ports are also responsible for actions that require compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act.
The Corps and the sponsor ports, with input from stakeholders 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 the natural resources of the Lower Columbia River while keeping the region open for business.
Vessels drafting the full channel depth carried about 11 million tons of export shipments worth nearly $3 billion in 2015. A well-maintained channel allows larger ships to carry significantly more cargo, supports regional and local jobs, and provides major and direct economic benefits and maintains local and federal navigation investments.
A Notice of Intent (NEPA)/Determination of Significance (SEPA) was published in the Federal Register on September 8, 2017, and published in the area newspapers announcing the Corps’ and sponsor ports’ proposal to jointly prepare an EIS and opening the comment period which will assist in developing the scope of the EIS.
Scoping provides an early opportunity to collect information and receive input from interested public and stakeholders on issues to consider in development of the Draft EIS. Open house-style public scoping meetings are planned in Oregon and Washington where the Corps and Ports welcome discussion and written scoping input from the public, and local and state agencies and organizations. All meetings run from 4:00-7:00 p.m. and the public is welcome to stop by anytime.
Official Links and Documents
Official Project Site
More about NEPA
More about SEPA