A DANGEROUS LITTLE SECRET
Concern about catastrophic flooding potential in the Green River Floodplain this fall has brought focus to the infirmity of the Howard Hanson Dam…and other danger factors that hang ominously over the communities downstream in the Green River Valley.
Several government agencies have joined to sound the alarm and provide some support for the potential victims to make whatever preparations are possible…and in any event be prepared to evacuate if worse comes to worse.
Preeminent among these agencies is the UNITED STATES ARMY CORP OF ENGINEERS.
In a public meeting in Auburn some weeks just past, Colonel Anthony Wright, local commander of the CORP, noted some of the danger factors in the upper stretches of the river in addition to the danger of possible failure at the Dam.
Among others, he alerted the public to the significant danger posed by loose logs (“torpedoes” the Col. called them) in the upper river, that can be swept along by a flood surge and literally destroy levees and other infrastructure…and that this could lead to an explosive flood surge destroying community areas and likely causing death to some trapped in the deluge.
This sort of information is very properly made public. The damage caused by large wood and other significant debris in a flood surge has been chronicled since any records of flooding have been kept in this region and elsewhere. No question remains.
What did not get said at that meeting…nor before or since…is the fact…still secret…that the CORP has been forced to dump literally hundreds of those very “torpedoes” in the River just below the H.H. DAM. This has been part of a program aimed at “habitat enhancement” for fish in the river.
These programs have been in place for fifteen to twenty years and admittedly still have not proven to significantly restore fish-runs…which clearly are being decimated more by ocean conditions and predators. In any event “habitat” can be created far more safely than dumping loose “torpedoes” into a stream… above the tens of thousands of hapless citizens…and their children…not to mention the billions of dollars of vital public and private infrastructure.
This program is slated to go on…FOR A TOTAL OF FIFTY YEARS…until literally thousands of these dangerous missiles have been dumped above the Valley.
Details of this program…a result of the hard work of our good neighbor Martha Parker… are available at
Most folks are sympathetic to such environmental concern…but when the cost may be measured in human life…some restraint is in order. That is clearly the case today in the Green River Valley.
Proper review by responsible authorities is paramount and should be prompt. The fact that the CORP feels compelled to maintain secrecy about this danger speaks volumes. Sources at the CORP tell us there is real distress about this disconnect from their historic mission making these rivers as safe as possible. This seems to be a sort of “PRE-KATRINA” circumstance re-visited.
A proper inquiry will identify just who it is that can stymie the better judgment of the CORP… and impose this secret danger on an unsuspecting public! Indeed!
And certainly as well…these questions must be answered…CAN MORE BE DONE TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC NOW?? IN ADVANCE OF THE CALAMITY THAT WILL CERTAINLY FOLLOW THIS MISGUIDED “HABITAT” PROGRAM…IF NOT THIS YEAR…THEN CERTAINLY IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
And how can this program be allowed to continue in the face of the clear danger it is now recognized to represent?? How many fish will we trade for someone’s child???
THESE “TORPEDOES” FORM…OR EXACERBATE EXISTING…LOGJAMS. NO MATTER THE FATE OF THE H.H.DAM…THESE LITTLE LOG DAMS WILL ULTIMATELY FAIL AS HISTORY HAS SHOWN…WITH CERTAINLY DESTRUCTIVE CONSEQUENCE.
We strongly suggest that the CORP draw from resources at Fort Lewis and enlist the personnel and equipment available. THIS IS WELL WITHIN THEIR AUTHORITY! IN FACT IT IS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY! A BASIC TENET OF THEIR MISSION!
The Army Rangers and Engineers could be mobilized…those huge helicopters standing by could be airborne…and some part at least of this reckless man-made danger could be abated. While there is still time!
Other Govt. agency personnel and private contractors could be put to work and some of the natural logjams and other hazards could be addressed as well. It bears note here that several other agencies have aggressively “protected” these natural hazards from removal as well…again in the name of “HABITAT." Time to revisit that policy as well.
All this myopia has brought the public safety issue in the Valley to “critical mass.” The public deserves better. We say again…habitat can be created…or repaired…far more safely.
One thing is certain. Those huge “copters” will… sooner or later… be in the air over the Green River Valley. If it is later…it may well be to rescue flood-survivors…or worse…to retrieve the bodies of victims.
THAT SHOULD NOT BE!
WE URGE ALL WHO SHARE THIS CONCERN TO CONTACT THE APPROPRIATE OFFICIALS AND DEMAND A REVIEW.