USACE Calls for Public Input on Mount St. Helens EIS

Dredge operating in the Cowlitz River at Kelso WA in March of 1981 (USGS Photo)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public comments on a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Mount St. Helens Long Term Sediment Management Plan.

The Corps is evaluating several alternatives in the draft SEIS to manage flood risk for the cities of Castle Rock, Lexington, Kelso and Longview, Washington, through the year 2035.

The original Mount St. Helens Sediment Management Plan, authorized in 1985, included construction of a sediment retention structure, levee improvements and dredging. In addition, the original plan indicated that additional sediment management actions would be needed sometime after year 2000 and acknowledged other actions besides dredging might be more appropriate in the future. The draft SEIS identifies remaining actions needed to be completed from the original MSH project and focuses on the actions’ associated impacts.

In addition to a No Action alternative, three alternatives were identified that would address the flood risks associated with sediment build up in the lower Cowlitz River through 2035.

They are:

1. Cowlitz River dredging only;
2. SRS spillway and embankment raise;
3. A phased construction plan consisting of:
a. SRS spillway crest raises,
b. Grade-building structures,
c. As needed dredging.

Environmental impacts for the three alternatives have been evaluated and are reported in the draft SEIS. The draft SEIS was prepared by the Portland District, with formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The Corps selected the phased construction alternative as its preferred alternative. Based on research and analysis, the Corps determined that this alternative provides specific actions and necessary flexibility to manage the flood risk to cities near the Cowlitz River.

USACE will host two open house public meetings in September, in Toutle and Longview, Washington.

Public Meetings:

September 10, 2014, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Cowlitz County Expo Center
1900 7th Ave, Longview, WA 98632

September 17, 2014, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Toutle High School multipurpose room
5050 Spirit Lake Hwy, Toutle, WA 98645

Members of the public are encouraged to provide written comments on the draft SEIS and the Corps’ preferred alternative during the 45-day comment period between August 22 and October 6, 2014.

Press Release, August 22, 2014

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