Clarkston public workshop addresses recent report on Lower Snake River Dams

Residents are encouraged to attend Tuesday’s public workshop in Clarkston addressing a report on the four federal hydroelectric dams along the Snake River in Washington state.

The new report says the dams bring both benefits and liabilities to the region, and there is no clear consensus in the state on whether the giant structures should be removed or retained.

The state Legislature last spring appropriated $750,000 to study the dams, which are blamed by many for declining salmon runs in the Columbia-Snake river system. The report is intended to help Washington lawmakers decide how to respond to an upcoming federal review of the dams and whether they should be removed. That court-ordered review is expected to be released in February.

The report released last month included data from interviews with 100 people and groups, but it did not include any recommendations and did not look at impacts outside of Washington.

The report says all species of salmon in the Snake River are listed as threatened or endangered and the dams are the biggest man-made obstacles they face.

But those who support the dams say breaching would hurt the region’s reliance on cheaper hydroelectric power, and eliminate the use of barges to transport agricultural products downriver.

Tuesday’s workshop in Clarkston runs from 6 PM to 9 PM inside the Quay Convention Center at the Quality Inn on Port Drive.

Public workshops are also scheduled for Vancouver and the Tri-Cities. The events include a short presentation of the report, followed by a panel discussion representing different interests.

While public testimony is not being taken during the workshops, written comments are accepted at the events and online through January 24th.  (AP)