U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state is urging the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge her state's ports in 2014, according to a letter sent to the Corps on Friday.
Cantwell pointed to four specific projects in Washington – Baker Bay, Chinook Channel, Kenmore Navigation Channel and the Quillayute River – as priorities.
The 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act – a budget deal – includes $40 million for the Corps to put toward dredging at smaller ports, according to a news release from Cantwell’s office.
Cantwell emphasized the importance of the four channels to the community and the entire marine industry.
“Our nation’s small ports serve as the lifeblood of their communities and help support thousands of fishing, shipbuilding and recreation jobs around the country,” she wrote. “The three counties in which these four channels sit have an average unemployment rate of 7.9 percent and the decreasing channel depths threaten to exacerbate the challenges these communities face. Baker Bay and Chinook Channels together support a marine industry that generates $157 million in annual sales and $143 million in exports mostly through seafood processing and boatbuilding.”
Cantwell noted that marine jobs make up 20 percent of the jobs in Pacific County, where the Baker Bay and Chinook channels are located.
She also said the Kenmore Navigation Channel supports several areas businesses, and dredging is necessary on the Quillayute River because of access.
“Without dredging, water depth is reduced, which could lead to landing gear on seaplanes being damaged by aquatic weeds. Dredging on the Quillayute River is needed to keep a channel open used by rescue boats from the area Coast Guard Station and vessels using the Quileute Tribal Marina,” she said.