Oregon’s small coastal ports receive funds for dredging

The Army Corps of Engineers will allocate an additional $9 million this year toward dredging projects at Oregon’s small ports.

More than $5 million of those funds will go toward the needs of small ports along Oregon’s South Coast, including $942,000 for the Port of Umpqua.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, and Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley requested the funding in a January letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy.

The funding increase, announced Tuesday, was included in the Army Corps of Engineers Work Plan for Fiscal Year 2016. The work plan also designated funding for five other South Oregon Ports, including the ports of Siuslaw, Bandon, Gold Beach, Brookings Harbor and Port Orford. The remainder of the funding would go to the Oregon ports of Garibaldi, Toledo and Depoe Bay.

The Corps operations and maintenance projects, which include dredging, are critical to local economies and the fishing industry. These ports also support the activities of federal agencies, such as the U.S. Coast Guard. Ports require routine dredging to ensure they are safe and operational, but have been severely underfunded for several years, according to DeFazio.

“Oregon’s ports and harbors are the lifeblood of the communities they serve. Thousands of Oregon jobs are directly or indirectly tied to cargo, recreation, industrial, commercial or other activity at Oregon’s ports,” DeFazio said in a written statement. “These critical investments in dredging will help ensure Oregon’s small ports stay open for business and boost local economies. I applaud the Army Corps for including this essential funding in their work plan.”