A Harrisburg concrete conglomerate wants to remove 200,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Columbia River annually, including dredging in a section of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing the application and soliciting public comments about the proposed dredging operation near Troutdale. Comments will be accepted through Monday, Feb. 26.
The material, or aggregate, would be pumped upland to an approved disposal site. The sediment would then be used in concrete and asphalt production.
Morse 'manufactures the largest … concrete bridge beams ever built or used in Oregon,' notes an Oregon Department of Transportation Web site. 'ODOT uses the massive beams on bridge projects throughout the state to cross creek and stream beds without using extra footings, thus avoiding disturbance to the surrounding environment.'
Ironically, the corps' preliminary findings indicate that the operation 'would adversely affect endangered species, or their critical habitat designated as endangered or threatened, under the Endangered Species Act,' according to the agency's public notice. It would also impact 140 acres that is home to Coho and Chinook salmon and starry flounder.
A host of federal, state and local agencies will weigh in on the complex application, said Army Corps spokeswoman Diana Fredlund. That dredging would occur in the national scenic area 'may cause the other agencies to look at it closely,' she said. 'That's an important thing that we need to make sure people know about.'
A company spokesman did not return a phone call.