The Clark County Board of Commissioners sent a letter on June 21 to the state Department of Ecology and to Cowlitz County outlining its worries about a proposed coal export terminal in Longview, saying they “cannot ignore the potentially significant, adverse impacts on our citizens.”On Monday, the Vancouver City Council agreed to draft a resolution also expressing concerns about the impacts coal trains traveling from Wyoming to a proposed export terminal in Longview may have. Numerous other regional cities have also drafted resolutions or sent letters of concern about the six proposed coal export terminals intended to serve as a conduit for coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana to China. In between the basin and the terminals, however, are hundreds of miles of train tracks, many of which run through Clark County. As many as 5,840 additional trains could flow through the county annually as a result, the letter said.While the commissioners wrote that they support job creation and a healthy economy, they requested that any environmental impact review — which is being co-led by the state Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County — “carefully consider the regional impacts of this proposal, including direct, indirect and cumulative effects in Clark County.”“We have concerns about how added rail traffic could harm the quality of life in Clark County, especially for those living and owning businesses near the rail lines,” the letter read. “Impacts could include: emergency response delays; increased traffic congestion; air and noise pollution due to idling trains; air pollution created by coal dust; blocked pedestrian and bicycle access to the waterfront; destabilizing steep slopes adjacent to the tracks; and changes to established quiet zones.”Extra planning will be needed to accommodate up to 16 trains, each a mile long, per day, the letter said. “As part of the analysis, the county thinks full consideration of alternatives and mitigation measures is in order,” the commissioners wrote.
A fisherman pulls a king salmon from the Kuskokwim River during a subsistence fishing opening on June 12, 2018. (Photo by Katie Basile / KYUK)Healthy numbers of salmon are reaching their Kuskokwim spawning grounds this season, according to state standards. Across salmon species, state-issued escapement goals are being met. These goals are set to help ensure sustainable runs and future subsistence harvests.Listen nowThe Alaska Department of Fish and Game is operating six weirs on Kuskokwim tributaries to monitor king salmon escapement. Each weir continues to track between the five- and 10-year average for kings. Nick Smith is a researcher with the department and points out that the numbers show consistency with recent runs.“The five- and 10-year averages have included those years of low productivity,” Smith said. “So to be tracking the five- to 10-year average is telling us that we’re following the same general pattern that we’ve seen over the past five to 10 years.”High water prevented four of the six weirs from gaining accurate counts earlier in the summer. The water level has slowly dropped, and this week the water level along the upper river main stem lowered to its historical average for the first time this season.The two weirs able to make accurate counts for the entire season indicate a familiar set of numbers. The George River weir is tracking right under the 20-year average for king escapement and has now reached the upper end of its escapement goal. The Salmon River Pitka’s Fork weir is tracking with the 2017 king salmon run.Escapement goals for king salmon aerial surveys have been met for the following tributaries: the Salmon River Pitka’s Fork, Cheeneetnuk River, Gagarayah River and Holitna River.Other salmon species are logging more robust runs.Chum salmon have surpassed their escapement goal at the Kogrukluk River weir, the only weir with an escapement goal for chum. Meanwhile, red salmon escapement is tracking above average at the three weirs that have escapement goals for this species: the Kwethluk, Salmon and Kogrukluk River weirs.