January 7, 2019
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Water managers recommend dam upgrades in Alpine Lakes Wilderness to help people, salmon

A working group focused on better management of Icicle Creek in Central Washington has released a long-awaited plan to improve the stream’s flow for the people and fish that depend on it, The Seattle Times reports.

The Icicle Work Group recommends $82 million in improvements, including automated release of water from dams located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The environmental-impact statement also calls for Eightmile Lake to be raised several feet, upgrades to the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery and water conservation projects in the Leavenworth area. It’s usually against the law to build in a wilderness area, but the dams were installed in the 1920s before the Wilderness Act of 1964, the newspaper reports.

“We’re pretty excited. When we started the effort in 2012, there was a long history of litigation and little problem solving,” said Mike Kaputa, natural resources director for Chelan County. “It took us six years to get to this point and we have a restoration path forward.”

The Icicle Work Group includes government officials, farm interests and environmental organizations, according to Chelan County.

The plan would address several water needs, including consistent stream flows for salmon and other fish; a reliable cold water supply for the fish hatchery; water for the city of Leavenworth; and irrigation for agriculture.

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Legislative Day and Hill Climb Preview
Supporting Rural Areas

Let's work together to prioritize rural economic revitalization

By AWB President Kris Johnson

The mission of the Association of Washington Business is to bring people together throughout the state to promote economic prosperity -- from the urban centers to the most rural corners.

We know that parts of Washington have boomed since the end of the recession, but other areas -- particularly the rural communities that exist in each of our state's 39 counties -- have not realized the same economic opportunities.

Our state's overall success depends on not just talking about the many barriers holding back economic growth in rural regions but finding and implementing solutions discussed at the AWB Rural Jobs Summit in the Legislature and at the local level to move every community forward.

Whether urban, rural or somewhere in between, we're all in this together.

Read the full column in the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
Taxing Employers

Legislature's return to work presents a challenge for business

By Bill Virgin

Laments from the business community about taxes, regulations and the high cost and frustration of doing business around here are typically met with two responses: "It can't be that bad, look at our booming economy," and "If you don't like it, leave" (the latter usually accompanied by a snide remark about Texas or the South).

To those points: The current success of the tech sector, however loosely that's defined, certainly fueled economic growth in the region. But other sectors are struggling for reasons of their own (retailing) or related to the boom (industrial businesses dealing with high costs). Tech's boom has papered over a lot of ills, and if the sector ever has another moment like the dot-com bust, that facade will be gone...

Eventually businesses reach a point at which the cost/benefit analysis tips from staying to going.

It hasn't happened in great numbers and it won't happen at the same time for all businesses. But those tipping points are out there. In 2019, we'll find out see how enthusiastically the Legislature pushes the region closer to them.

Read the full column in The News Tribune
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