Public Input Sought on Plan
by John Trumbo
The public will get a chance to comment on a plan to impose restrictions on backyard docks along the Columbia River from Kennewick to Richland and Pasco at a meeting later this year, say Army Corps of Engineers planners working on a proposed McNary-Lake Wallula Shoreline Management Plan.
"We're taking this update seriously, and we're listening to the public," said Walla Walla District Commander Lt. Col. Michael J. Farrell.
The Corps' original public comment meeting held Jan. 14 produced dozens of comments from property owners who objected to the proposed new rules that would all but eliminate private boating and swimming docks that exist in the Tri-Cities along the river.
The Corps wants to see changes in how docks are built and used to reduce risk for juvenile salmon that are prey food for birds and other fish.
Farrell extended the typical 30-day public comment period on the draft plan 180 days to July 15 at the request of those who attended that meeting.
The Corps' shoreline plan staff are reviewing more than 100 comments that have been received.
Cindy Boen, shoreline plan project manager, said staff will coordinate with state and federal agencies to address issues raised in the comments.
"The Corps is committed to producing a technically accurate and quality plan to comply with existing state and federal laws while balancing the desires of those who use Lake Wallula," Boen said.
Farrell said in a statement issued last week that the Corps has contracted for an independent review of the juvenile salmon requirements in the Columbia River in an attempt to find a compromise that balances Endangered Species Act considerations with the desire for recreation and development on Lake Wallula.
"We won't publish an updated plan not supported by sound science," Farrell said.
The new rules are being considered because the current shoreline management plan does not consider cultural resource issues that are important to Native American tribes, nor does it provide for Endangered Species Act fish that include seven species of salmon and the bull trout.
Proposed changes could include requiring metal grate dock surfaces, no solid decking, paint or treated lumber, and dock designs that do not allow fish-eating birds to perch or hide.
Dates for a revised schedule and a future public meeting on the shoreline plan will be announced after all comments are evaluated and consultation with other agencies is completed.
For more information about the McNary-Lake Wallula Shoreline Plan, go online to www.nww.usace.army.mil.
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