GOLD BEACH The Curry County Commissioners gave their support to the Port of Brookings Harbor Tuesday on dredging, beach restoration, and port improvements.

Russ Crabtree, executive director of the port, gave a presentation at the commissioners meeting.

He first asked for a letter of support for federal appropriations for the dredging fleet. He said the Republican Congress would prefer private dredges supported by user fees.

Without emergency response from federal dredges, said Crabtree, Brookings Harbor wouldnt have the port it has today.

He said low flows in the Chetco River this winter have allowed a sand bar to build up at the mouth of the river. There is only 4 to 8 feet of water where there should be 19.

When the fishing boat Frank F. scraped the bottom and tilted sideways while entering the river, Crabtree contacted the Army Corps of Engineers for emergency dredging.

The federal dredge Yaquina is scheduled to dig the river out on March 9, in plenty of time for the shrimp fishery to open April 1.

The port had 21,000 angler trips last year, making it the busiest sport harbor on the Oregon coast, said Crabtree.

He also asked the commissioners to support his efforts to transfer some of the debt from the Sporthaven beach revetment project to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Crabtree said the beach, which draws 200,000 visitors a year, was badly eroded in 1995. The $1.2 million revetment project stopped further erosion, while the dumping of dredge material helped the beach rebuild.

If we dont continue to maintain that beach, we will be back where we were in 1995, he said.

Since the beach is in an ocean recreation zone some of the cost of maintaining it should be transferred to the parks department: items such as rest rooms, trash collection, and access ramps, Crabtree said.

He also asked that some of the revetment project debt be transferred to the parks department.

La Bont said that would be fair, since the parks department was the only state or federal agency that didnt help during the emergency.

Crabtrees third request for a letter of support was for an economic development project at the port.

He said a new commercial service and repair dock, along with more cold storage, would benefit the commercial fleet, tourism, and economic development.

He said the new dock, which would have a heavy lift, would help the fleet comply with new rules on the sale of fresh fish off boats.

He said the albacore tuna market needs additional cold storage to keep five independent buyers going.

The $1.8 million project would also include an auxiliary launch ramp and a public viewing area.