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Breach the Ballard Locks, Washington lawmaker suggests

The 1914 Salmon Bay Bridge, as it appears to hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to the Ballard Locks. (Feliks Banel)

Washington State Sen. Doug Ericksen is not giving up on his plan to breach the Ballard Locks to return Lake Washington to its natural state.

Breaching Snake River dams could be ‘a deadly distraction for orcas’

Why? Because he believes it’s important for the people of Seattle and King County to take a look in their own backyards before they suggest removing dams along the Snake River. Breaching four dams on the lower Snake River was mentioned in Governor Inslee’s Orca Task Force’s report as a way to potentially release more salmon into the orcas’ habitat.

“Establish a stakeholder process to discuss potential breaching or removal of the lower Snake River Dams for the benefit of Southern Resident orcas,” the task force suggested.

The Seattle City Council passed a resolution requesting that Idaho breach the dams.

Not surprisingly, the controversial proposal from the task force raised the eyebrows of people in more rural areas of Washington living along the Snake River.

Ericksen said he had great response to his proposal last fall from all over Washington, not surprisingly by people in Eastern Washington who would be impacted by the removal of dams.

Never answering whether Senate Bill 6380 was more of a statement or a serious piece of legislation, Ericksen further suggested breaching dams along the Skagit River, a source of Seattle’s electricity. He also suggested daylighting the Ravenna Creek, which runs through sewer pipes below the University District, and even potentially reversing the Denny Regrade.

Could breaching Snake River dams save Southern Resident orcas?

“I think it’s a response to Seattle activism trying to come into Eastern Washington and tear down dams that are critical to the economy of that region,” he outlined. “I think it’s a response to Seattle based-area environmental groups that want to shut down the timber in parts of Washington state and the mining industry,” Ericksen said.

The senator is well aware of what might happen to homes along the shores of Lake Washington if the Ballard Locks were breached, but he said “it’s a small price to pay to protecting our environment an returning to a pre-Columbian status for the people of Seattle.”

Ericksen’s bigger point, which no one can argue is, “economic development in Eastern Washington looks different than economic development in downtown Seattle.”

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