Seeking accountability from the Corps of Engineers

Members of the Free the Snake Flotilla on Lower Granite Lake Oct. 3. Photo by Greg Stahl.

Members of the Free the Snake Flotilla on Lower Granite Lake Oct. 3. Photo by Greg Stahl.

noun: accountability
1.    the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.
"their lack of accountability has corroded public respect"

One component of growing from a child into a responsible adult is being accountable for what you say and do. A quick look at the unruly political debates in this country can lead one to assume that, in many cases, accountability was and is in short supply.

On a local level, it is not unreasonable for citizens to expect accountability from their public officials. Last fall, IRU and our partners held a flotilla above Lower Granite Dam to help raise public awareness about the absurdity of continuing to funnel vast amounts of taxpayer dollars into a failed system that continues to decimate Idaho’s iconic wild salmon and steelhead.

Before the flotilla craft had even dried, the commander of the Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jumped into action  and hit the media circuit with the same false statements that industry representatives and the Walla Walla District of the Corps have been spinning for years.

IRU and our allies sent the commander, Lt. Col. Timothy Vail, a letter on Oct. 21 that identified and refuted many of the false statements that he had made. Additionally, we requested that he issue a public correction.

The response from the commander was less than we hoped:  crickets chirping.

After two months of silence, we sent a follow-up letter in late December, this time to the commander’s Washington, D.C. superior, Lt. General Thomas P. Bostick. More silence has ensued.

Good government demands transparency, responsiveness and accountability. So far, the citizens of this nation are being short changed by the Corps of Engineers. While they may not like what IRU and our allies have to say, that does not lessen their responsibility to be truthful and accountable.

We’re hoping for better, transparent and honest leadership from the Corps as we continue into 2016 and look forward to working with the federal agency to right the wrongs that have been wrought on the lower Snake River.

  • Click here to read the original letter to Lt. Col. Timothy Vail.
  • Click here to read the follow-up letter to Lt. General Thomas Bostick.