GOLD BEACH andndash; Curry County commissioners on Wednesday sent letters to Congressman Peter DeFazio and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, to support funding to dredge the Port of Port Orford.
David Brock Smith, representing the Port Orford City Council and the Chamber of Commerce, requested the letters in an effort to get federal funding for the dredging.
A group of Port Orford residents, concerned that the Port of Port Orford is filling with sand and will effectively end fishing, has been conducting a petition campaign to get the attention of the Army Corps of Engineers and federal officials.
The Corps completed the construction of the jetty that extends off the port in 1969. Since then, the Corps came back each year to dredge, but they stopped in 2010.
The port is currently less than 1 foot deep at the channel, local officials say. Boats can't get in and out. And 35 percent of the local economy depends on fishing.
Smith said officials learned on Tuesday night that the Corps is rebidding dredging on the Chetco River. With the Corps dredge going to the Chetco, half the expense would disappear since it would go past the Port Orford port.
Smith asked the commissioners to throw their support in hopes of federal officials finding enough money to dredge this year.
"The Board of Commissioners of Curry County requests your support of appropriate funding mechanisms that could be used to dredge the Port of Port Orford," the letters say.
"The Board of Commissioners of Curry County is aware of the rough current economic environment, however we feel this is a safety issue for the Port Orford fishermen and should take priority for funding," the letters say.
The letter is signed by all three commissioners.