New initiative returning Columbia River shoreline to Tri-Cities - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New initiative returning Columbia River shoreline to Tri-Cities

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TRI-CITIES, WA - A new initiative is starting to bring ownership of the Columbia River shoreline back to the Tri-Cities.

It's 34 miles of shoreline that right now belongs to the Federal Government.

Now, three former city leaders are teaming up to let people know more about it.

"I'm pleased to say that it's been a long road but we're close to getting where we need to be," said Brad Fisher, Senior Vice President for RBC Wealth Management.

Since 1945, the Corps of Engineers has had control of the Columbia River shoreline to handle flood control in the area. 

However, after a thorough legal review, the community found that the ownership no longer had a valid purpose since the Federal Government had built six additional dams upstream of the McNary Dam to prevent any issue.

 Research showed the chance of a Columbia River flood causing the same level of damage as the flood of 1948 is almost impossible.

With the reconveyance of the shoreline, residents will finally be able to see the area's rising success.

"It would really tie the future of these lands to the investment that the local communities have been making," Fisher said.

With that goal in mind, former Kennewick mayor Brad Fisher, retired U.S. Representative Doc Hastings, and Consultant Gary Petersen have teamed up to help give the local cities and counties the power to develop and manage the land surrounding the shoreline the way they want to.

After close to 70 years of neglect, the residents, Petersen says, have turned a blind eye to all that could happen down by the river.

"Imagine the possibilities, that's what Brad says repeatedly, imagine what it could look like if we could improve those parks, put in the maintenance required, make them smaller, better used," said Petersen, CEO of Petersen Consulting. "Perhaps put in a water park, perhaps put in open-air pavilions that allow the public to come down and use the property, those are the things that could be possible."