On March 16, 1931, Idaho Senate Bill 116 passed and authorized ports in Idaho. No additional action was taken until 1958, when 80% of Nez Perce County voters in the November election favored creation of the Port of Lewiston – Idaho’s only seaport.
Authorization and powers of the port are outlined in the Idaho Code, Title 70, including:
- Acquire, maintain, and operate land, facilities, and equipment for industrial and economic development.
- Finance and construct facilities and services reasonable to the operation of a modern efficient and competitive port including industrial and economic development facilities of any kind or nature which maintain or increase employment opportunities in a port district.
- Develop and regulate harbor improvements.
- Develop and regulate land and water transfer and terminal facilities.
- Develop industrial and economic development facilities.
- Issue revenue bonds.
The Port District is administered by a Port Commission composed of three representatives elected by voting districts within Nez Perce County. Commissioners serve six year terms, staggered so that an election is held every two years.
The Port levies a property tax within Nez Perce County. The Port derives revenue through a combination of ad valorem taxes, income received from marine and rail operations, property and building leases, and warehouse operations.
Land acquisition began in 1965 in North Lewiston and facility construction followed in the early 1970s and continues to the present. With the arrival of slack water, the Port has provided water transportation services since the first barge left the Port dock in 1975. The intermodal status (barge, rail, and truck) of the Port of Lewiston means that it offers lower transportation costs to a large, previously landlocked region thus encouraging development of the area’s resources.
“Federal, state and local dollars are wisely spent on infrastructure at the Port of Lewiston,” said U.S. Senator Mike Crapo. “The Port’s activities move mountains of grain and freight, driving local commerce. The Port is also responsible for the creation of more than 1800 jobs, enabling the growth of leading companies like Schweitzer Engineering.”