Idaho Legislature Voices Support For the Columbia-Snake River System, Port of Lewiston

(Lewiston, ID) – Among its many accomplishments, the 63rd Legislature of the State of Idaho produced House Joint Memorial No. 11 stating support of the Columbia-Snake River System, its dams and the Port of Lewiston.

The memorial recognizes the importance of the Columbia-Snake River System as part of the U.S. Marine Highway network and as a multiuse system providing navigation, transportation, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, hydropower generation, flood control and irrigation.

It also acknowledges the Port of Lewiston, Idaho’s only seaport, as “part of the collective Columbia-Snake River System” and “an asset of the State of Idaho and to the Inland Northwest region, providing global competitiveness and connectivity for regional products, economic development investment and multimodal transportation.”

The memorial was sponsored by Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee and adopted by the House with a 60-8-2 vote toward the end of March. Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, carried the memorial to the Senate floor, where it was adopted by voice vote on April 7.

“The Port of Lewiston is critical to both current and future industry of the region and our ability to attract industry,” said Troy. “Personally, my grandfather shipped grain out of the port. My daughter and son-in-law do, and, I’m hoping that my grandchildren’s grandchildren are able to use the port to get their farm commodities to the world.

“So this is very personal to me, I was honored to carry it,” she added.

Several individuals spoke in favor of the memorial, including Travis Jones, executive director of Idaho Grain Producers Association. The memorial recognizes the Columbia-Snake River System as the top wheat export gateway in the United States, with approximately 16 percent of all U.S. wheat exports barged through at least one of the Snake River dams.

Jones’s testimony added that the river system is the third largest grain export gateway in the world.

“This infrastructure is a major factor in why Idaho has a $1 billion vibrant wheat and barley industry that helps serve as a backbone to the economy of Idaho and its many rural communities,” he said.

The importance of hydropower produced by the Lower Snake River dams is also documented in the memorial, as well as significant increases in fish returns thanks to on-going efforts to improve fish passage and habitat.

The memorial also states that removal or breaching of dams on the Columbia-Snake River System or taking water from the state would equate to “a loss in economic and trade opportunities, a loss of recharge waters for the state’s aquifers, a loss of navigation and transportation, an increased risk for floods, an increase in electrical rates, a shortfall in power generation, a loss of recreational opportunities and a threatened quality of life for Idaho citizens.”

Port of Lewiston Secretary/Treasurer Mary Hasenoehrl also testified in favor of the joint memorial.

“We want to thank our legislators for taking the time to put into words just how important the Lower Snake River dams and the entire Columbia-Snake River System are to the people who live here and do business here,” said Hasenoehrl.

Hasenoehrl said that 77 percent of Northwest residents agree that it is critical to the Northwest that dams and salmon co-exist, according to recent poll results from Northwest River Partners.

“There’s a small minority making a lot of noise about dam removal but most of us recognize the value of preserving the river system because of its multiple uses and benefits,” she said.

Visit this link to read the bill in full: http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2015/HJM011.htm.

CONTACT: David Doeringsfeld, Port of Lewiston Manager
(208) 743-5531
portinfo@portoflewiston.com

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