Family Festival Celebrates River Systemby Matthew Weaver
Capital Press, May 1, 2017
The Snake River Family Festival reminds the public about the benefits of the Columbia-Snake River system.
The Columbia-Snake River System will be celebrated at an upcoming festival.
The Snake River Family Festival is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 20 at Boyer Park and Marina, 1753 Granite Park Road in Colfax, Wash.
The event is hosted by a coalition of river users, including the Idaho, Oregon and Washington grain and wheat commissions.
It is designed to help the public understand and appreciate the river system and how it boosts the region's economy, said Blaine Jacobson, executive director of the Idaho Wheat Commission.
"It's to raise awareness of how the river contributes to quality life," Jacobson said.
Roughly a third of Idaho's wheat harvest and 60 percent of Washington's wheat harvest go to overseas markets on the river system, Jacobson said.
Jacobson said the dams are also hitting a 60-year record in fish returns.
Juvenile fish downstream survival rates past each of the eight federal dams on the river system are 95 to 98 percent, according to the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association.
"Moving commodities by barge is so much more environmentally friendly than any other transportation mode," said Tom Kammerzell, commissioner for the Port of Whitman County and a Colfax rancher.
The festival is a response to misinformation about the river system put out by groups who want to remove the dams on the river.
"Sometimes it's said some folks don't let the facts get in the way of a good story," Kammerzell said. "We are trying to put out the facts along with a good story. Everybody can come up with their own conclusions, but they have to have all the information to make a good decision."
"It's easy to be passive, but passive doesn't get the message out," he said. "We need to send a good message to the rest of the country and the world that this is important to us."
If successful, similar events could be held on the Columbia-Snake system, he said.
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