Clarkston Port Responds
Passenger growth on the Columbia/Snake over the last six years was 34 percent. Expansion is expected
to continue, due to an aging population and a desire by Americans to explore the United States.
The Port of Clarkston July 31 responded to a study prepared by ECONorthwest and funded by Vulcan that argues the costs of the Lower Snake River Dams outweigh the benefits.
"ECONorthwest and Vulcan should get their facts straight," said Mark Brigham, commission chair, Port of Clarkston. "Remarkably, the report ignores the existence of the cruise industry and its economic benefits. And then the report fails to remove cruise passengers from baselines in forward-looking tourism and recreation analyses. Without the waterway passage made possible by the dams, the cruise industry would be unable to bring travelers to experience the richness of our history, culture and exceptional natural environment."
The Port of Clarkston has been hosting cruise lines for 32 years. Replica steamers regale tens of thousands of visitors each year with river lore, geology, history, Nez Perce Tribal culture, Lewis & Clark, and even world-class wine-making as they travel approximately 500 miles one-way up the Columbia/Snake Rivers. Cruises are seven to nine days one way.
Passenger growth on the Columbia/Snake over the last six years was 34 percent. Expansion is expected to continue, due to an aging population and a desire by Americans to explore the United States. According to the manager for the Port of Clarkston, Wanda Keefer, three new cruise boats joined other boats on the Columbia Snake/Rivers in the last two years, and three additional new boats are in various stages of design and fabrication. "We only see numbers increasing, unless something drastic happens," she said.
"Cruise passengers enjoy every bit of their experience on the rivers," said Michelle Peters, president/CEO of Visit LC Valley, "but the highlight is definitely Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. It's North America's deepest river gorge. Jetboats pick up the passengers at the cruise boat dock and take them to areas only accessible by water. They see big horn sheep, abandoned mines, petroglyphs and steep river canyons with amazing rock formations.
"Also, they travel through rapids. How do you put a value on bucket list experiences?"
"Fish and dams are both critical to our valley and the Pacific Northwest," Keefer said. "We do not need an either/or approach to these issues. We need solutions that support salmon recovery, carbon-free hydropower, low-carbon and safe river transport, and recreational opportunities for all ages."
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