Joyce D Parks Letter to Anne Cann, US Army Corps 01.02.2018

From: Joyce Parks
Sent: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 12:48 AM
To: Ms. Anne Cann, Alternate Designated Federal Officer for the Committee, US Army Corps
Subject: Comments for Jan. 12th Environmental Advisory Board Committee Meeting
Importance: High

Dear Ms. Anne Cann:

I wish to make comments re the breaching of the four dams on the Snake River.  This saga has been going on for years and it is time to put an end to this horrific waste of taxpayers dollars.  Several people, entities, advocates, scientists, & others have studied this too death for the last decade or more.  I am really tired of the waste of money on this-so-easy-to-solve problem.

The corps is spending billions that a 2002 Feasibility study and EIS said was going to be less effective than doing nothing. It is costing taxpayers approx.. 197 MILLION per year.  The four dams on the lower Snake are not worth the expense. They only produce 3% of the regional power grid that currently produces an annual surplus of 16%. Simple math shows a substantial cost.

Federal agencies spend more than $600 million annually on salmon recovery measures that have not worked. There are no fixes for the four deadly slack water reservoirs behind dams. The options have run out. Dam breaching makes both economic and ecological sense.  Throwing money into these dams in the hope that wild salmon will recover has not produced results. To continue to do so simply is a waste of tax and ratepayers’ money. This behavior is the definition of insanity.

A whale-watching industry that brings in millions of dollars to western Washington’s economy is at stake, as well as a salmon industry that produces millions more. Severe reductions in commercial and sport fishing have not stopped the decline of wild salmon populations. Fish Passage System Improvements have not worked to the tune of $2 BILLION. Many expensive dam modifications and surface passage structures cost taxpayers nearly $900 million designed and installed, yet wild populations still are not meeting minimum survival objectives.

Breaching the dams would restore the natural Snake River ecosystem. A natural flowing river would restore habitat. Hatchery jobs could be switched to habitat restoration jobs. A naturally flowing river would filter water more efficiently, creating  better water quality for the salmon and steelhead to proliferate.

Outdoor recreation spending supports an estimated 200,000 jobs in Washington. With a free flowing lower Snake River recreation benefits would skyrocket. Recreation is one of the primary sources of income as people desire high quality recreation experiences & are willing to travel for them. A well conducted survey found there would be an immense increase in visitation with a free flowing river.  Economists value these benefits at $1.4 BILLION dollars per year. The visitor spending effects would support 3,000 to 4,000 jobs within the counties surrounding the Lower Snake annually.

The Elwha River on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula is an excellent example of how rapidly a free flowing river can restore its watershed, and how rapidly salmon and other wildlife will return to an undammed river, if doubts remain about whether dam removal can restore an ecosystem.  The natural restoration is impressive and gives hope to the people for the recovery on the Snake and Columbia rivers.

The overall loss of biomass into the Columbia/Snake is crashing the ecosystem from the micro food webs in the cool Idaho headwaters to the lack of primary prey for killer whales to loss of fisheries in the northwest Pacific Ocean. The Corps has failed to meet the fundamental Federal Objective of creating National Economic Development along with net employment loss in the thousands, loss of ecosystems service benefits and higher power bills by the continued operation of these 4 dams.

And all, while holding an operable EIS that has breaching as an alternative, as was noted by the ASACW.  I would think that the LTG Semonite, the EAB and Corps leadership would take immediate action on the only reasonable alternative remaining in their EIS.


We are in the hole with this.

Joyce D. Parks

Fairbanks, Alaska