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Discussion of siltation was clear

On Jan. 31, Al Johnson wrote that I was evasive in my response about siltation of the lower Snake River reservoirs. I thought I was pretty clear when I said that Lower Granite Reservoir was the only one that controlled flooding by drawing the reservoir down at the dam making navigation and fish passage impossible.

Mr. Johnson went on to say that "Fish passage and transportation facilities can't function during full operation of the dams." I clearly stated that this would only happen at Lower Granite Dam and then only during an extreme flood event. Except when they are down for repairs or maintenance, fish passage and navigation facilities are always fully functional.

With regard to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers being evasive about dredging, within a few minutes on the Internet I found public information by the Corps that indicates breaching the dams would cause downstream movement of 100 million to 150 million cubic yards of material from the lower Snake reservoirs.

Using the lengths of the reservoirs, average widths and average depths, the capacity of the reservoirs is 260 billion to 300 billion cubic yards. Less than one percent of the capacity is filled with silt.

Most of that is in Lower Granite reservoir, which receives 3 million to 4 million cubic yards of sediment annually from the Snake and Clearwater basins. Over the last 30 years, nearly all of the Corps' efforts to conduct maintenance dredging in the Snake River have concentrated in the Lewiston-Clarkston area.

The Corps has been working since 2005 on a new dredging environmental impact statement for which they have held public meetings and have elicited input from the public, regional governments, the scientific community and the fish and wildlife agencies.

It started the first EIS for dredging in the 1980s when I was the chief of the Environmental Resources Branch. Since then the Corps has conducted several environmental reviews, but has been thwarted from dredging several times by lawsuits.

This happened in spite of the fact that the Corps funded fishery impact studies and coordinated the timing and methods for dredging with the fishery agencies to minimize impacts to salmon and resident fish.

John McKern

Walla Walla

Can government steal?

Most of what the Founding Fathers understood as legitimate powers of the federal government are enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Congress is authorized there to do 21 things, and as much as three-quarters of what Congress taxes us and spends out money for today is nowhere to be found on that list.

To cite a few examples, there is no constitutional authority for Congress to subsidize farms, bail out banks, manage car companies or offer housing loans.

As government grows liberty is reduced. We can see that by looking at what has happened to taxes and spending. A tax, of course, represents a claim on private property.

Every tax confiscates private property that could otherwise be freely spent or invested. At the same time, every additional dollar of government spending demands another tax dollar, whether now or in the future.

The average American now works from Jan. 1 until May 5 to pay the federal, state, and local taxes for current government spending levels. Thus the fruits of more than one-third of our labor are used in ways decided upon by others. The Founding Fathers favored the free market because it maximized the freedom of all citizens.

The primary justification for increasing the size and scale of government at the expense of liberty is that government can achieve what it perceives as good. But government has no resources of its own with which to do so.

Congressmen and senators do not reach into their own pockets to pay for a government program. They reach into yours and mine.

Absent Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, the only way government can give one American a dollar in the name of this or that good thing is by taking it from some other American by force. If a private person did the same thing, no mater how admirable the motive, he would be arrested and tried as a thief.

The question we have to ask ourselves is whether there is a moral basis for forcibly taking the rightful property of one person and giving it to another to whom it does not belong. I cannot think of one.

Charity is noble and good when it involves reaching into your own pocket. But reaching into someone else's pocket is wrong.

Theodore Richerzhagen III

College Place

The kids took action for Haiti

I appreciated your Tuesday article about the Rogers Adventist School students' efforts to help earthquake relief efforts in Haiti - front page, no less.

I would hasten to add two important pieces of information. The amazing bake sale was produced by Mrs. Wessman's students and families. It was all their idea. Eighth-grader Hannah Ehlers, our student body president, produced the all-school assembly that gave accurate information to our students about Haiti's tragedy. Her hard work is to be commended.

Your recognizing these hard workers for their efforts is appreciated.

Jim C. Weller

College Place

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