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Posts Tagged ‘Dredging Small OR coastal ports’

Over the last month since we’ve returned to Port Orford, I’ve asked folks “so what’s new?” Although I heard many tales  not one person mentioned dredging. (See: https://wanderwest.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/plus-ca-la-change/)

In fact, according to new Port Manager Steve Courtier, a small dredging project was undertaken in May followed by the full scale dredging taking place right now—the result of the September 2013 agreement between the state and the Corps summarized at: https://wanderwest.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/looks-like-were-going-to-see-the-port-put-back-in-port-orford/

First Day Dredging

First Day Dredging

This apparent lack of interest in such an important Port Orford happening seems baffling. Remember the 2012 “Put the Port Back in Port Orford!” campaign calling attention to its ongoing shoaling problem? People with buckets, wheelbarrows and shovels, hit the beach at low tide and “dug out” a mock channel. Fishermen talked of using their boats’ propellers to churn away sediment. Grim predictions of the port’s demise were heard around town.

But now in August, 2014 a Corps-contracted dredge has arrived. It began scooping spoils mid-afternoon on Sunday July 27th, after leaving its previous mid-July job at the mouth of the Rogue. HME Construction’s dredge is working round the clock and is expected to complete the dredging ahead of schedule! So, we’re getting the dredging, 40,000 cubic yards of spoils removed in record time. And, according Courtier, the Port’s also gotten a grant and is in the process of purchasing a pump, pipes and generator which will be shared with Brookings and others for remedial dredging work. It also appears the Corps has re-committed to dredging Oregon’s small ports into the future. It sounds like a win-win-win for Port Orford to me.

So where’s the town-wide celebration I would have expected? Maybe last Saturday’s Blessing of the Fleet extended to HME’s dredge. At any rate, it looks like the Port really has been put back in Port Orford. And hooray for that!

August 5, 2014

August 5, 2014

August 5, 2014

August 5 2014

August 5 2014

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On the Dock at Port Orford © SR Euston

On the Dock at Port Orford
© SR Euston

From last October’s depressing rejection of a community and legislative plea to the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge Port Orford’s port, there’s good news on the horizon!

According to Michelle Helms, Public Affairs Specialist for the Corps’ Portland District, it may have been exactly that very discouraging conversation here October 30, 2012 that set the wheels in motion for this excellent result—a joint partnership to begin dredging a number of small Oregon coastal ports in the next year. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), between the Army Corps and the State allows the Corps to accept state funds (~$5 million) expressly dedicated to dredging Oregon’s smaller coastal ports.  First on the list: the Siuslaw and Umpqua River mouths, followed by Port Orford!

The MOU was ceremonially signed yesterday by Governor Kitzhaber, Deputy District Commander Lt. Col. Glenn Pratt, and State Senator Jeff Cruze, Chair of the Coastal Caucus, another pivotal player in getting to yes on this historic collaboration, only the second in the nation. Congressman Pete deFazio and the Regional Solutions Team as well as others played vital roles in seeing this partnership through to fruition.

9/17/13 Signing the MOU Courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers

9/17/13 Signing the MOU
Courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers

As the Corps dredge Yaquina steams toward the Siuslaw and then the Umpqua other preparations need to be made for Port Orford because another type of dredge is required. The Corps will go through a bidding process to select a dredging contractor to do the work. Exactly when the dredging will happen is a question, based on the contracting process and, of course, the weather. The expectation is that the project will be completed by summer 2014.

This is a grand result. Here in Port Orford special kudos go to the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT) for keeping the heat on and the community informed. And to all the MOU players—Thanks!

For more info see: http://www.oregon.gov/gov/media_room/Pages/press_releases/press_091213.aspx

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