AAPA Seaports Advisory

Dredging: Coos Bay

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Oregon International Port of Coos Bay Spearheads State Dredging Initiative 

THE LAURA, a state-owned dredge operated by the Coos Bay port staff, provides maintenance dredging services to Oregon’s small coastal communities.
Photo/Oregon International Port of Coos Bay
The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay is taking a lead role in an Oregon state initiative to ease the maintenance dredging burden on small coast communities.
Annual maintenance dredging of navigational channels is conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to keep shipping channels safe and navigable.  However, this annual maintenance dredging by the Corps does not include launch ramps and marinas.  
Ports throughout Oregon were struggling to keep marinas and launch ramps navigable due to the cost contracted dredging services. Smaller ports were not able to afford the cost to dredge their marinas, which has led to significant amounts of shoaling within marinas along the entire Oregon Coast. The result of this shoaling jeopardizes the ability of commercial and recreational fishing fleets to moor, yielding catastrophic economic impacts.  
In 2015, the state purchased a swing ladder suction dredge "THE LAURA" and her tender, the Ms. SoCo, a 30-foot twin outboard vessel equipped with a 1-ton crane, to help reduce the cost of dredging in marinas, allowing smaller ports to remain safe and viable.
In late 2016, the State of Oregon asked the Port of Coos Bay to take over the operation and management of "THE LAURA."  Coos Bay’s management of THE LAURA helps to streamline and create uniformity in how dredging projects are implemented across the State. Coos Bay has the staff, expertise and capacity to perform dredging operations for other smaller ports statewide.  
Dredging projects are selected each year based on severity of need, permitting and availability of funding. The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay will be working with the State of Oregon and a committee of ocean and river ports to establish a selection process for dredging projects since there are significant needs at ports throughout the state.  
In early 2017, it completed dredging the marina used by recreational boaters year-round in the Port of Alsea. Coos Bay port staff are now being deployed to dredge the marina and boat launch at the Port of Garibaldi, a small coastal community about 150 miles north of Coos Bay.  
Garibaldi was selected this season because it has a dredging permit in place and because vessels are currently sitting on bottom at low tide, which prevents them from getting underway when the tide is out. The project will save time and expense at the Port of Garibaldi, and lead to greater utilization of their facilities. The port supports a mix of commercial fishing boats, charter vessels, and recreational fishing vessels. 
"We are a small but growing port," said Garibaldi Port Manager Michael Saindon. "Keeping the boat basin dredged is critical for the safety of all mariners and can make the difference to our many small business’s ability to be successful.  With the help of the Port of Coos Bay and the state-owned dredge, we can keep the port dredged at a reasonable cost and not have to incur debt to keep the Port running."
The Port of Coos Bay is committed to promoting sustainable development that enhances the economy of southwestern Oregon and the State, and supporting port and maritime operations statewide.

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