NEWPORT, Ore. — After lawmakers, fishermen and community members begged the U.S. Coast Guard to keep a helicopter facility open in Newport after it was slated for closure, the Coast Guard announced Tuesday the shuttering will be delayed at least until Dec. 15.
The announcement came hours after Senator Jeff Merkley, Congressman Kurt Schrader and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici lobbied alongside Newport fishermen, the Newport Fisherman’s Wives group, and area first responders to keep the facility open at a fire station in Portland.
The Coast Guard had previously said the Newport station was costly and not necessary, since a helicopter could arrive to the area from North Bend or Coos Bay in around an hour.
Many in the Newport community said that would be too long and could result in lost lives in some emergency situations. The Newport Fishermen’s Wives group has been a particularly vocal contingent in lobbying to keep the chopper on the central coast of Oregon.
Previously, lawmakers urged the Coast Guard to keep the helicopter in Newport and at least wait until after crab season to close the facility.
The chopper was slated to close on Nov. 30. Now, the facility will remain open until Dec. 15, which creates more time for discussion about the future of the helicopter, a spokeswoman for Senator Merkley said.