Hastings’ Language on McNary Shoreline Management Plan passes House
Jun 6, 2012 -
Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation, with Congressman Doc Hastings’ support, which included language authored by Hastings to ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to work with local residents to address their concerns regarding the McNary Shoreline Management Plan as the agency moves forward with implementation. This language was included in the report accompanying H.R. 5325, the Fiscal Year 2013 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.
“I am pleased that the House of Representatives recognized the need for local input as the Corps implements this plan significantly impacting residents that live in the McNary area,” said Hastings. “I still believe claims that docks impact fish survival rates is fiction and not science, and I am continuing to pressure the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to either withdraw their statements or provide some sort of justification for these limitations that they have forced on dock owners throughout the state.”
In 2006, the Walla Walla District of the Army Corps of Engineers proposed changes to the McNary Shoreline Management Plan that would have placed a moratorium on the construction of new docks along the shoreline and requiring existing docks to be removed at great expense to property owners. This proposal was based on statements made by a local NMFS office that docks pose a threat to endangered fish species in the Columbia River. The Corps was forced to withdraw the plan and go back to the drawing board after significant opposition from the community.
In June 2011, the Corps proposed a similarly controversial proposal imposing new mandates – such as specific requirements for the length, width, color, and transparency of each dock, all of which the National Marine Fisheries Service claims would help save salmon. As Hastings has noted, however, with the current docks in place salmon runs are at near record levels in the McNary area.
The Corps released a revised proposal in October that addressed some of the community’s concerns, such as removing the requirement for upgrades of existing docks as long as they are safe and have not been significantly modified since the last permit was issued. However, concerns still remain. Hastings worked to insert language into last year’s Energy and Water appropriations bill directing the Corps to work with the community as they finalized the shoreline management plan. While the plan was finalized on March 23rd, Hastings’ language that passed the House today requires the Corps to continue to work with local residents as they move forward with implementation.
Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected a petition filed by NMFS to halt construction of the Beebe Ranch community dock – citing a biological opinion released by NMFS in 2010 and concluding that the dock would have “a minimal effect, if any” on endangered or threatened species in the river.