Oregon lawmakers call for annual federal funding for dredging, jetty maintenance

Aerial view of the mouth of the Columbia River (Photo: US Army Corps of Engineers)

A group of legislators from Oregon are pushing the US Office of Management and Budget to provide the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) with annual funding for maritime infrastructure maintenance crucial to public safety and improvement of economies up and down the Oregon Coast and throughout the Columbia River system.

Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici, have requested that President Joe Biden’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year include adequate funding for USACE navigation projects along the Oregon Coast and Columbia River system.

The legislators said the funding will be needed on an annual basis, since Oregon’s ports are heavily impacted by severe Pacific storm fronts and strong fluvial runoff that inundate federal navigation channels with sediment and damage jetty infrastructure every year.

Jetties up and down the coast lose critical length every year, undermining their primary function of protecting navigation channels, the legislators added.

“Sediment build-up in the federal channels and the continuing deterioration of jetties create very dangerous situations for mariners,” the legislators said in a recent letter to Acting Director Rob Fairweather of the Office of Management and Budget. “A lack of funding for these projects not only puts mariners in harm’s way, but also impedes the US Coast Guard’s ability to carry out search and rescue missions.”

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