City of Clarkston gives port green light to dredge

Jul. 15—The city of Clarkston's approval of a shoreline permit will help clear the way for dredging at the Port of Clarkston this winter.

After a public hearing on the issue this week, the Clarkston City Council unanimously gave its support for the port to move forward with the project. Director Wanda Keefer said dredging at the Lewis Clark Terminal and docks near Seventh and 14th streets can hopefully begin Dec. 15. The last time the area was dredged was in early 2015.

"The port will pay for dredging the two cruise dock berthing areas, as well as the recreation dock at Granite Lake Park," Keefer said. "LC Terminal will pay for its berthing area."

The project is poised to coincide with the Army Corps of Engineers' dredging of the navigation channel near the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers.

Keefer said dredging at the Port of Clarkston is essential for "our locally grown wheat to get to foreign markets to feed the world."

In addition, the economic benefit of cruise boat visitations continues to grow, she said. More than $6 million from the industry is expected to flow into the local economy in 2022.

An itinerary change by American Cruise Lines has led to more tour options than ever before, Keefer said. Passengers who want to be bussed to Spokane are charged an extra fee.

"ACL has made this community its home base," she said. "Passengers flying in and out of Lewiston do not incur the extra costs."

Delta Airlines has added additional flights to accommodate the tourists, and extra hotel room nights are another bonus of the influx of passengers, Keefer said.

"We conservatively estimate 25,000 cruise boat passengers in 2022."

When ACL has all of its seven vessels online, the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley can expect to see around 37,000 cruise boat enthusiasts a year, plus visitors on the other cruise lines that dock here, she said.

The official approval by the city of Clarkston was the last local step in the dredging permit process. The port is now working on the final permits with the corps.

Sandaine can be reached at kerris@lmtribune.com.