Quillayute River channel dredging back on track; project at harbor in LaPush expected to begin in September

By Leah Leach
Peninsula Daily News

LAPUSH — Dredging of the Quillayute River at the harbor in LaPush, which had been put off since it was last done in 2011, is expected to begin in September.

The Army Corps of Engineers placed the $1.47 million project on its work plan for 2014 on Tuesday.

“We anticipate starting dredging on Sept. 1 and completing the work by late December,” said Steve Cosgrove, spokesman for the Seattle District of the Army Corps of Engineers, on Wednesday.

The channel to be dredged leads to the boat basin that encompasses the tribe’s Quileute Marina. The basin, which can accommodate about two dozen boats, supports the tribe’s $4 million fishing and fish processing industries.

The marina also is the home port for rescue boats of the Coast Guard Station Quillayute River, the only search-and-rescue station along 100 miles of coastline between Grays Harbor and Neah Bay, as well as the station’s marine-spill-response trailer that has material to combat oil spills.

The Quileute tribal chairman welcomed the news that dredging would be done this year.

“The delay in completing the dredging on schedule has had a significant impact on the tribe economically,” said Chas Woodruff on Wednesday without providing more details.

“It’s definitely going to help the economy with not only our tribal fishermen but all fishermen,” he added.

The accumulation of silt can make the harbor more perilous to navigate.

“This project is going to help tremendously with the safety of all boaters out here,” Woodruff said.

The Coast Guard routinely monitors the depth of the harbor and dredges around the boat house to keep the area clear, said Chief Jim Pond, executive officer of the Quillayute station.

Pond said the delay in dredging had “not caused any problems as of yet.”

Sediment had been scooped from a channel leading into Quillayute Harbor every other year.

Dredging originally scheduled for 2013 was put on hold in light of the sequestration budget deal.

Congress failed to pass spending bills that fiscal year and instead passed a resolution that extended 2012 spending levels.

That meant the Army Corps could fund in 2013 only those projects that had received funding in the previous year. Since the every-other-year project was not funded in 2012, it couldn’t be funded in 2013.

The maintenance dredging will take some 75,000 to 100,000 cubic yards of sediment from the entrance channel and the boat basin, Cosgrove said.

Dredging keeps the entrance channel about 10 feet deep, the Army Corps of Engineers said in its project proposal for 2013, which will be used in September, according to Cosgrove.

The material taken from the channel will be deposited on several nearby areas, primarily the ocean side of the spit to nourish the spit and Rialto Beach via the littoral drift.

“I am pleased the Army Corps of Engineers has decided to dredge Quillayute Harbor this year,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer, whose 6th Congressional District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties.

“Not only is this project important for the local economy and the Quileute tribe’s fishing industry, it also supports public safety along the Washington coast.”

Kilmer had sent a letter to the Army Corps last month encouraging the agency to complete this work in 2014.

Kilmer thanked Sen. Patty Murray, D-Seattle, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, for their support in gaining the funding.

The harbor and marina offers a livelihood for about 325 tribal members and 50 who are not members of the tribe, the Army Corps of Engineers said.

Said Woodruff: “We are supportive of Congressman Kilmer’s assessment and position on the situation, and the tribe is appreciative of his support as well as Sen. Murray and Sen. Cantwell’s support.”

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Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or at leah.leach@peninsuladailynews.com.



Senior Reporter Paul Gottlieb contributed to this report.

Last modified: March 06. 2014 7:42PM
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