Small ports on the South Coast stand to benefit from money allocated to the Army Corps of Engineers from Congress.
The $4.5 million will be used to provide much needed dredging to the shallow draft ports. While the Army Corps of Engineers dredged Brookings last year, it did not do so to Gold Beach or other small ports on the Oregon Coast. This has left some ports with dangerously shallow harbors and bars.
“It’s really good news for all the coastal ports,” said Ted Fitzgerald, manager of the Port of Brookings Harbor. “We want to make sure all the ports are healthy.”
Federal funds allocated to ports:
Gold Beach: $638,000.
Port Orford: $1.3M.
Fitzgerald credited the work of the South Coast Port Coalition in lobbying with congressional leaders. He said the governor’s office and the Southern Coastal Caucus were instrumental in securing the funding.
The funding is part of $40 million allocated for small ports nationwide in the 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act.
Debbie Collins, manager of the Port of Gold Beach, said it was great news for the port and for the town.
“Without being dredged, it made it really hard for people to come and fish last year,” Collins said. “It’s amazing what just one year of not being dredged will do.”
The Port of Gold Beach was last dredged in 2012.
Ports require dredging in order to ensure safety. Without dredging, silt builds, up making crossing harbor bars dangerous.
“This is truly good news,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio in a press release. “The funds will be a boost to local economies, providing our fishermen safer access and a good summer recreation season.”
Besides Brookings and Gold Beach, Port Orford, Suislaw, Umpqua and Bandon will also be dredged.
Fitzgerald said the ports on the south coast help keep the economy going.
“The port is going to be dredged,” Fitzgerald said. “Everybody can go fishing so there won’t be any excuse for not catching fish.”