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 Home > News & Policies > August 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 13, 2004

The Columbia River Channel Deepening Project

August 13, 2004



Today's Presidential Action

    Today, President Bush visited the Port of Portland in Oregon and announced his proposal to deepen 104 miles of the Columbia River Channel -- from the mouth of the Columbia River to Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington. The Columbia River Channel Deepening Project is expected to greatly expand export opportunities in the Pacific Northwest, protect trade-dependent jobs in the region, and enhance the environment. To begin this work, the President will submit to Congress a $15 million amendment to the FY 2005 budget.

    The President has acted aggressively to remove barriers that disadvantage American workers and exporters, and today's announcement underscores the President's commitment to America's economic strength, trade, and job creation, while conserving and restoring the delicate ecosystem of the Columbia River.

    The President's FY 2005 budget also supports ecosystem restoration and salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest with more than $600 million for Columbia River basin salmon. The President has also proposed $100 million -- a $10 million increase over FY 2004 -- for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund to assist states, tribes, and local governments with projects benefiting salmon in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, and Alaska.

Background on Today's Presidential Action

America is economically stronger when participating fully in the worldwide economy. Ninety-five percent of the world's population lives outside the U.S. and represents a vast potential market for U.S. farmers and businesses. The Office of Management and Budget has now completed its review of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan for the Columbia River Channel Deepening Project and found it to be justified; the President will submit to Congress a $15 million amendment to the FY 2005 budget to enable work to begin. The Project will provide national transportation and trade improvements, as well as regional and statewide environmental benefits.

    Economic and Trade Benefits of the Columbia River Channel Deepening Project. The President believes expanding markets for U.S. products and services is an important part of sustaining America's economic recovery and protecting and creating new jobs for American workers. According to government statistics:
  • The Columbia-Snake River system is the world's second largest grain export system, conducting more than $15 billion in trade business in 2003. It carries goods from as far inland as Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.
  • In the Columbia River region, more than 40,000 local jobs with an average annual wage of $46,000 are dependent on the river's commerce, and 59,000 more Northwest jobs are affected by such activity.
  • U.S. exports accounted for about 25 percent of U.S. economic growth during the 1990s and supported an estimated 12 million jobs.
  • American farmers plant one in three acres for export, and exports generate nearly 25 percent of farmers' gross cash sales.
  • Sixteen percent of manufacturing shipments are exported, and jobs in manufacturing firms that export typically pay wages that average up to 18 percent more than jobs in non-exporting firms.
    • Environmental Benefits of the Columbia River Channel Deepening Project. The President is committed to preserving and protecting our public lands, coastal areas, and open spaces. The Columbia River Channel Deepening Project includes significant ecosystem restoration, evaluation and monitoring, and adaptations in management to complement the Endangered Species Act Biological Opinions. Those opinions were provided in consultation with NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Channel Deepening Project is consistent with the Columbia River Basin-wide Salmon Recovery Strategy for action by Federal agencies, states and tribes on the impacts of hydropower, habitat, harvest, and hatcheries on wild salmon.

      Ecosystem Restoration. The President's proposal would create, enhance, and restore approximately 2,000 acres of riparian and wetland habitat. Six ecosystem restoration features are included in this project.
  • Migrating juvenile and adult salmon will be helped by tidegate retrofits with fish slides installed along the lower Columbia River, at Grizzly Slough, Tide Creek, and Hall Creek in Oregon, and at Burris Creek and Deep River, Washington;
  • Juvenile salmon rearing will be helped by connecting channels constructed at the upstream end of Walker-Lord and Hump-Fisher Islands to improve juvenile salmonid access to their embayment-rearing habitats;
  • Juvenile salmon rearing will be helped by the dredging of Bachelor Slough to improve flow and water quality and restoration of rearing habitat in shallow water/flats and riparian forest habitat;
  • Restoration and maintenance of native tidal marsh will be helped by implementation of an integrated pest management plan for purple loosestrife control between Columbia River miles 18 and 52;
  • Migrating juvenile and adult salmon will be helped by implementation of a 3-phase effort to improve water circulation and fisheries ingress and egress at Tenasillahe Island, Columbian white-tailed deer translocation will establish a secure and viable deer population at Cottonwood-Howard Island, and tidal marsh habitat will be restored at Tenasillahe Island via breaching the encircling dike; and
  • Waterfowl and wading birds will be helped by the restoration of wetland habitat at Shillapoo Lake.
    • Salmon Recovery. Science shows that significant improvements in wild salmon populations can be achieved through restoration of the Columbia River estuary, where salmon spawn and transition between fresh water streams and the ocean. The Columbia River Basin-wide Recovery Strategy focuses on the most immediate, short- and long-term benefits for all threatened and endangered runs of salmon in the Columbia River basin. The President's FY 2005 budget supports the Lower Columbia Estuary Restoration Program with $2 million in funding. Federal estuary restoration projects that are already underway include:
      Crims Island, where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with the Columbia Land Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bonneville Power Administration, and other partners to protect and restore approximately 425 acres of tidal emergent marsh, swamp, slough, and riparian forest habitat on Crims Island in the upper Columbia River Estuary to benefit salmon and Columbia white-tail deer.
      Brownsmead, where the Columbia River Estuary Study Task Force (CREST) will use Bonneville Power Administration funding and technical engineering and environmental expertise from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore juvenile salmon habitat with tidal flow to about 9.2 miles of sloughs in an area of about 2,068 acres of diked floodplain.