Dredging slated to begin as early as this weekend at Port of Siuslaw
(Salem, OR) — Governor Kitzhaber, the Oregon Legislature’s Coastal Caucus, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today announced an historic partnership to fund critical dredging projects for Oregon’s small coastal ports. Under the new agreement, dredging is scheduled to begin as early as this weekend at the ocean entrance to the Siuslaw River near Florence, followed by the entrance to the Umpqua River and the port of Port Orford this fall and winter. Dredging will continue at other small Oregon coastal ports in 2014.
When nearly all dredging funds for Oregon’s coastal ports were cut in the 2013 federal budget, the Coastal Caucus, the Governor, and the Regional Solutions Team worked together to secure state funding for these vital infrastructure projects. Oregon state lawmakers and the Corps then entered into an agreement that allows the federal agency to accept state funding for the express purpose of dredging the federal navigation channels into Oregon’s small coastal ports.
“Faced with a major budget shortfall, a lot of individuals and organizations stepped up to move this exceptional effort forward quickly, with the Corps, Regional Solutions, the Coastal Caucus, and Congressman DeFazio all providing critical leadership,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “This kind of diverse collaboration is the most effective way to build a stronger economy for the entire state and a great example of how we get things done in Oregon.”
Coastal Caucus Chair Jeff Kruse also praised the effort. "This historic agreement – only the second of its type in the nation – demonstrates the positive results that come from working together,” said Senator Kruse. “We reached across the aisle, across branches of government, and across state and federal jurisdictions to make this happen. As a result, Oregon's small ports will be dredged, jobs will be saved and created, and our coastal communities will continue to serve as economic drivers for all of Oregon.”
The Corps’ hopper dredge Yaquina will travel to the southern coast within the next few days to begin work in the Siuslaw River. Dredging operations at the ports of Port Orford and Umpqua will follow. These dredging operations would not have been possible without the funds made available by the agreement. Of these ports, the port of Port Orford was last dredged in 2010.
Ports and small coastal waterways are among Oregon’s most valuable assets, providing a crucial employment base in Oregon’s rural counties while helping to maintain and create jobs across the state. A 2013 economic impact study analyzing the Port of Bandon illustrates the positive economic effects small ports have on their communities. The study concluded that maintaining adequate depths at Bandon was vital to the viability and growth of 54 local businesses directly employing 441 people, with an additional 177 jobs also dependent on the same economic activity. In only one year, this modest-sized coastal port directly and indirectly added more than $27.4 million in value to the regional economy in 2012, while returning nearly $8 million in state, local and federal taxes.
Col. John Eisenhauer, Portland District Commander for the Corps, said, “These are challenging fiscal times for the nation. Coming together, communicating openly and directly to find a collaborative solution to dredge Oregon’s coastal harbors is, for me, an example of a true partnership. These ports are the backbone of their communities, and the Corps is committed to continue working within our authorities to support them.”
Office of Governor Kitzhaber: Tim Raphael, 503-689-6117
Portland District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Michelle Helms, 503-808-4517
Coastal Caucus: Sen. Jeff Kruse, 541-580-3276; Sen. Betsy Johnson, 503-543-3594