Two Lower Columbia coastal ports received good news from the federal government this week: $1.8 million in maintenance dredging to help keep their harbors open to commercial fishing boats and other large vessels.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would include $930,000 for the Port of Chinook and $876,000 for the Port of Ilwaco in its $270 million 2014 harbor maintenance plan. The money will pay to dredge passages between Chinook and Sand Island and Baker Bay that have gradually been silting in because of cuts in small harbor dredge funding, port officials said.
Securing dredge dollars are critical to keeping small ports humming, and Tuesday’s announcement is an important economic victory, supporters said.
“These ports are just as important to their communities as the big ports are. In some cases, they are the main economic driver in their community,” said Kristen Meira, executive director of the Portland-based Pacific Northwest Waterways Association.