By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Resident David Barnes – armed with photos – detailed shoaling problems on the Rogue River Wednesday for Curry County commissioners. He said at least a dozen boats had been stuck on a shoal across the mouth of the Rogue River inlet.

The photos showed what Barnes called almost complete blockages at the entrance to the Port of Gold Beach and further up river near the Landing on the Rogue Restaurant. Boats have been getting stuck in both areas, according to Barnes and Commission Chair Chris Paasch.

Paasch owns and lives on property near the shoal at the Landing.

The shoals create a danger for unaware fishermen, according to Commissioner Court Boice, who noted many come from out of town and at times there are 300 to 400 boats fishing the river.

The shoal at the port has formed across the entrance to the dock areas causing difficulties for boaters navigating into and out of the river, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to do emergency dredging in federal waters near the Port of Gold Beach this summer.

According to officials at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the channel on the Chetco River is scheduled for dredging over the next two weeks, and the Rogue River channels will be addressed as well.

The Rogue River work includes the entrance to the Port of Gold Beach and an emergency contract to dredge the access channel to the boat basin. The Port of Port Orford will be dredged this summer as well.

Port of Brookings Harbor Manager Gary Dehlinger said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began dredging Wednesday on the Chetco River. The dredging is expected to continue for the next two weeks, according to Dehlinger. The Yaquina, a hopper dredge ship, is expected to work at the mouth of the Chetco River as well as the Rogue River and the Port of Port Orford.

“They don’t really give us a schedule,” he said, “but they generally use our port (the Port of Brookings-Harbor) as a base camp.”

Commissioner Sue Gold suggested the ports contact the state to access a clam-shell dredge it makes available, but she did not know the costs. She said the dredge is housed in Coos Bay.

The amount of sediment in local rivers is much higher this year due to local wildfires over the past two summers and the damage they did to the watersheds, according to Boice, who said even Jerry’s Jet Boats were at one point unable to navigate beyond the Landings.

The board agreed something had to be done and called the river and the tourism it generates “the life-blood of the county,” saying they would work with Barnes and the ports to find solutions such as allowing commercial quarries to take rock from the rivers in areas where shoaling was excessive.

Gold noted the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality would require permits for any dredging or quarrying in the river.

Paasch said he would contact U.S. Rep. Peter Defazio about the situation.

In other BOC news

The board approved the collective bargaining agreements with the Teamsters Union for covered employees in the sheriff’s office and road department.

Commissioners gave Roadmaster Richard Christensen signature authority to contract with Tidewater Contractors for paving in central Curry County for $817,000.

Christensen received approval for temporary bridge repairs at Willow Creek after noting the bridge had been downgraded by the state so that it could no longer support a fully-loaded cranberry truck and would thus present a problem for farmers in the area. The contract with Billeter Marine for $21,000 will enable temporary repairs without negating the county’s ability to receive grants in the future to replace the bridge, according to Christensen, who said a permanent fix could cost $2 million.

Commissioners approved further negotiations with the Dyer Partnership to provide engineering services to the county. Director of Operations Julie Schmelzer said Dyer might also contract to be the county’s surveyor.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com

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