Public Notices

The Corps and Columbia River Ports jointly preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for The Lower Columbia River Federal Navigation Channel Maintenance Plan

Published Sept. 8, 2017


The Lower Columbia River
Federal Navigation Channel Maintenance Plan

Issue Date: September 8, 2017
Expiration Date: November 16, 2017

Joint and Lead Agencies: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is the lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Ports of Longview, Kalama, Woodland, and Vancouver (Washington Ports) along with the Port of Portland in Oregon (collectively, the Sponsor Ports) are cooperating agencies under NEPA. In addition, the Washington Ports are co-lead agencies under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) with the Port of Longview serving as the SEPA nominal lead agency.

Notice: Interested parties and tribes are hereby notified that the Portland District of the Corps and the Sponsor Ports are preparing a joint Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for The Lower Columbia River Federal Navigation Channel Maintenance Plan (Plan) and are seeking public input during an extended scoping period, from September 8 through November 16, 2017.

Scoping Process: The scoping process is required under NEPA (40 CFR 1501.7) and SEPA (RCW 43.21C.030(2)(c). It is the first step in the environmental planning process where an EIS is prepared. Through the scoping process, potential environmental issues, potential mitigation, and alternatives that will be studied in detail in the EIS are defined. The scoping process is meant to:
• Identify significant environmental issues to be analyzed.
• Identify and eliminate from detailed review those non-significant environmental issues.
• Identify any related and connected actions.
• Identify other environmental review, permitting, consultation requirements, or other approvals that may be required so they can be integrated with the EIS.
• Indicate the project schedule.

Project Description and Location: The Lower Columbia River Federal Navigation Channel project includes a main channel that is 43 feet deep and generally 600 feet wide, and extends upstream of the Mouth of Columbia River, River Mile (RM) 3 to Vancouver, WA, RM 105.5. The channel also extends into lower Oregon Slough and includes vessel turning basins at Astoria in Oregon and Longview, Kalama, and Vancouver in Washington. The channel is maintained using a combination of dredging and hydraulic control works (pile dikes). Advanced maintenance dredging is currently approved up to 5 feet below authorized depth (-48 feet) and up to 100 feet outside the authorized channel width. For the past several years, dredging 6 to 8 million cubic yards of localized sand shoals has been required annually to provide reliable service for deep-draft navigation.

The Corps’ policy requires all federally maintained navigation projects to demonstrate that there is sufficient dredged material placement capacity for a minimum of 20 years. The Plan is intended to ensure warranted and environmentally acceptable maintenance of the 43-foot Lower Columbia River Federal Navigation Channel for the next 20 years. Specifically, the Plan will be designed to facilitate efficient management of dredged material, accounting for variability of shoaling processes, to provide a reliable channel for deep-draft navigation. The Plan will describe the results of investigations and analyses used to make determinations as to current and forecasted dredging needs and material placement capacity, potential additional placement sites, measures to reduce the need to dredge and avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures as needed.

As the non-federal sponsors, the Sponsor Ports are responsible for securing the upland placement sites through purchase or easement and for obtaining state and local permits for the disposal sites. To satisfy requirements of NEPA and SEPA, the Corps and Sponsor Ports will jointly prepare an EIS on the Plan.

Public Involvement: The Corps and Sponsor Ports invite all affected federal, state, and local agencies, affected Native American Tribes, and other interested parties to participate in the NEPA and SEPA processes during development of the Draft Integrated Plan and EIS. The purpose of the public scoping process is to provide information to the public, serve as a mechanism to solicit agency, and public, input on alternatives and issues of concern, narrow the scope of analysis to significant environmental issues, and ensure full and open participation in scoping of the Draft Integrated Plan and EIS. You may comment on alternatives, mitigation measures, probable significant adverse impacts, and licenses or other approvals that may be required. A series of public scoping meetings will be held during the scoping period. The specific dates, times, and locations of the meetings are provided below under section titled “Scoping Meetings”.
Upon completion of the scoping process, the Draft Integrated Plan and EIS will be developed and then circulated for public review and comment. The Corps and Sponsor Ports expect to release the Draft Integrated Plan and EIS for public review and comment in 2018. The Corps will issue a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register announcing the release of the Draft Integrated Plan and EIS for public comment. The Sponsor Ports will publish a Notice of Availability of the Draft Integrated Plan and EIS for public comment in accordance with SEPA regulations. Documents and other important information related to the Draft Integrated Plan and EIS will be available for review on the project website.

Areas for Discussion in the EIS: The lead agencies have identified the following areas for discussion in the EIS: Earth, Air Quality, Water, Plants and Animals (Terrestrial and Aquatic Species), Energy, Noise, Land Use, Recreation, Aesthetics, Historic and Cultural Resources, and Transportation. The analysis of these elements may be further refined as work on the EIS proceeds.

Additional Project Information: The scoping documents, Federal Register Notice of Intent, and background information to help inform the public during scoping are available on the project website:

Scoping Meetings: A series of public scoping meetings are scheduled for October 2017. The dates, times, and locations of the meetings are listed below. All meeting locations are ADA compliant. Requests for specific accommodations may be directed to Kate Wells at (503) 808-4664 or

Scoping Meeting Dates and Times   Scoping Meeting Locations
Monday, October 2, 2017
4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  Cowlitz County Event Center
1900 7th Avenue
Longview, Washington
Thursday, October 5, 2017
4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 
  Marshall Community Center
1009 E McLoughlin Boulevard
Vancouver, Washington
Friday, October 6, 2017
4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  Charles Jordan Community Center
9009 N. Foss Avenue
Portland, Oregon
Monday, October 16, 2017
4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 
  Meriwether Place
1070 Columbia Boulevard
St. Helens, Oregon
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 
  Maritime Museum 
Barbey Maritime Center
1792 Marine Drive
Astoria, Oregon
Thursday, October 19, 2017
4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 
  Norse Hall
444 State Highway 409
Cathlamet, Washington

Commenting Opportunities and Instructions: Only substantive comments directly related to the scope of the EIS will be considered during the EIS scoping process. Written comments may be anonymous. Written comments may be submitted by any of the following means through the end of the scoping period.

• At a scoping meeting listed above.

• The project web page: Click on the following link to find the electronic and printable comment forms

• E-mail: Send comments to the following e-mail account

• U.S. Mail to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Portland District
P.O. Box 2946
Portland, Oregon 97208-2946

To aid comment preparation, the Corps and Sponsor Ports recommend referring to the guidance provided in “The Citizens Guide to NEPA” available at the following link:

Helpful Information Needed to Guide the EIS Development Process: The Corps and Sponsor Ports are seeking information from interested parties, tribes, and agencies that will help them formulate the suite of alternatives to be analyzed in the EIS. Important information that would aid in analysis of potential impacts includes but is not limited to:
• Potential new placement areas.
• Current placement areas that could be expanded.
• Sediment needs along the river.
• Specific shoreline erosion issues.
• Environmental effects and concerns.
• Economic concerns.
• Social effects.
• Cultural and tribal resources concerns.

Agency and Project Sponsor Coordination: The Corps and Sponsor Ports are coordinating with resource and permitting agencies in the states of Oregon and Washington related to resources under the jurisdictions of those agencies. In addition, the Corps will be coordinating with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as required by the Endangered Species Act.

Cultural Resources Consideration and Tribal Consultation: To determine the potential effect of the Plan alternatives on known or unknown historic properties, the following items are being analyzed: the nature of the proposed activity and its effect on the landscape; the likelihood that historic properties are present within a project area; whether the ground is disturbed by previous land use activities and the extent of the disturbance; reviewing listings of known archeological or historic site locations, including site data bases and areas previously surveyed or listings of sites on the National Registry of Historic Preservation. Tribal coordination efforts have been initiated with the tribes listed below. The Corps and Sponsor Ports encourage substantial Tribal engagement throughout the EIS development process.

• Confederated Tribes of Siletz
• Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde
• Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs
• Cowlitz Indian Tribe
• Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
• Nez Perce Tribe
• Confederated Tribes of the Yakama Nation

For More Information: Please visit the website or contact Kate Wells at (503) 808-4664 or

SEPA Responsible Official:
Ann Farr
Port of Longview

NEPA Specialist:
Kate Wells
Corps of Engineers