The much needed dredging for the Depoe Bay Harbor will likely soon become a reality. Depoe Bay has been allocated nearly $900,000 for the project.
The US Army Corps of Engineers has released its FY19 work plan and officials said Oregon did very well, gaining "significant plus-ups" for the work in the Columbia River and Oregon Coast ports. The Corps work plan includes the needed dredging funding for Depoe Bay, according to Depoe Bay Harbor Master Liz Martin.
"Great news!" Marin said. "I think the trip to DC helped all ports."
"I am gratified that Depoe Bay has earned these essential resources to provide the dredging needed for fishing and other economic activities to continue in the community's harbor," Oregon US Senator Wyden said. "I am proud to have worked with Depoe Bay officials and my colleagues in Oregon's delegation to succeed in making the case for maintenance in the town's renowned "world's smallest harbor.'"
Depoe Bay Mayor Barbara Leff responded to The News Guard's questions about the dredging project.
News Guard: What is your reaction to the details about the nearly $900,000 that has been approved for Depoe Bay?
Leff: We are delighted that the funding has been approved and look forward to the day when the funding approval becomes routine.
News Guard: Specifically, what will this fed money be used for in Depoe Bay?
Leff: I understand that it will be used to dredge the harbor and (I hope) to dredge by the check dam as well.
News Guard: Economically, what does this appropriation mean to Depoe Bay and to the region?
Leff: As Liz Martin and Loren Goddard told the folks in Washington, annual revenues of the two main charter fishing businesses in Depoe Bay are roughly estimated at just over five million dollars.
There is also substantial income from whale watching trips—estimated at about $1.3 million—and from the visitors to Depoe Bay who support our shops, restaurants and motels. The whale watching, charter fishing and other businesses operating out of the harbor employ upwards of 50 full time, part time and contract personnel.
Of the 77 annual moorage holders in Depoe Bay harbor, six moorage slots are currently unavailable due to to the silt build up around the fuel dock. Once the harbor is dredged, those six slots become available
Depoe Bay is a town of about 1,600 people, with no tax base. Without the substantial direct and indirect income from the harbor and related businesses, Depoe Bay’s financial challenge would be even more challenging that it already is.
News Guard: What is the timeline for the Depoe Bay dredging?
Leff: All we know is that they told us the dredging would occur in the spring.
News Guard: Could a portion of the the nearly $900,000 be set aside for future dredging?
Leff: That is not our money. It is the US Army Corp of Engineers money. It is up to them. We have no say in that. If w did we would have been dredged a long time ago.
My hope is that a system is created so that the small ports get dredged as needed and we won't have to go through this dog and pony show every time we need dredging. Oregon Congressman Peter Defazio is working on legislation to make that happen.
Depoe Bay officials recently went to Washington, D.C. to meet directly with the Oregon Congressional delegation to lobby for the dredging money.
The Corps work plan announcement this week follows a meeting on Nov. 1, with Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader, state and local officials and Depoe Bay business operators. Schrader also took a brief tour of the harbor after which he told The News Guard that the city was "in distress" pending federal funding for the dredging.
See the back stories attached.