PORT ORFORD – A group of Port Orford residents, concerned that the Port of Port Orford is filling with sand and will effectively end fishing, has started a petition campaign and will hold a rally on July 4 to get the attention of the Army Corps of Engineers and federal officials.
“It got started out of a need to get our port dredged,” Tyson Rasor, an organizer of The Citizens to Keep the Port in Port Orford, said Tuesday.
“In 1969, the Army Corps of Engineers had completed the construction of the jetty that extends off the port,” Rasor said.
“In 1970, they asked for emergency funds to dredge out the port because it sanded out that fast. For 40 years, they had to come back and dredge annually. 2010 was the last time they’ve come to dredge,” he said.
“It’s been two years. The port is currently less than 1 foot deep at our channel. We need to have a safe navigational channel and a functioning one. Boats can’t get in and out. And 35 percent of our local economy depends on fishing. Without fishing, our local economy collapses. This is where the need starts from,” Rasor said.
He said the Army Corps of Engineers has turned down the dredging of Port Orford for the second year in a row and simply thanked the community for “our interest in the Civil Works Program.”
And the Corps said there is no current plan to dredge the port in the future.
Two weeks ago, the committee placed a petition at a website, asking for the Army Corps to dredge the port.
That website is http://www.change.org/petitions/army-corps-of-engineers-keep-the-port-in-port-orford?utm_campaign=friend_inviter_modal&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition.
“Right now, there are 579 citizens who’ve signed,” co-organizer Tom Calvanese said.
The goal is to get at least 1,300 signatures on the petition, one for every resident of Port Orford.
“We’re organizing folks in town, encouraging folks to join us at a rally July 4. We’ve been getting well received by folks who understand the problem and need to get it addressed. We’re going to continue the outreach and show that this fishing town supports our fishermen and recognizes the need for our economy,” Calvanese said.
“We know already, the petition has brought attention to the cause,” he said.
“We’ve already heard from several folks from the Corps, Rep. DeFazio’s office. They get the message the petition was intended to deliver. The more signatures we have on the petition, the more compelling the message is,” Calvanese said.
“The ultimate goal of all of this, our appeals to elected officials, is simply to get the job done. It’s a straight forward cause. We need to dredge the harbor so it’s safe and navigable, which it’s not right now,” Calvanese said.
The “Let’s Get Dredged and Keep the ‘Port’ in Port Orford Rally” will be taking place at the Port Dock at 7:30 a.m. July 4.
At that rally, there will be a community photo at the hook.
“The more people we have, the more powerful and effective this photo will be,” the organizers said.
They are asking for personal photographs to show how the economy relies on fishing.
There will be a boat lowered onto the sand to show that boats go on water, not on sand.
And there will be a community dredging.
“Grab a shovel and a bucket and come down to the port to help dig out the sand. We will dig up sand, load it into wheelbarrows and send it over to the castle building contest,” organizers said.