Posted on April 6, 2017
By Max Sullivan, Seacoastonline.com
New Hampshire’s congressional delegates are calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge Hampton Harbor, where they say severe shoaling is harming local marine industries.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., wrote a letter March 27 to the Army Corps of Engineers asking for the federal engineering and construction agency to quickly dredge the harbor, last done in 2013. The letter was also signed by U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., as well as U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., and Ann Kuster, D-N.H.
Shaheen wrote that shoaling, in which waves push sand to create shallow water, has caused conditions in the harbor to deteriorate and made it difficult for boats to navigate the harbor. Many vessels, she wrote, are now reliant on the tides to successfully get in and out of the harbor.
Shaheen wrote that the harbor is a vital part of the New Hampshire Seacoast economy and public safety infrastructure. The harbor supports 20 charter fishing boats, 70 lobster and commercial fishing boats, the Yankee Fishermen’s Cooperative, a federally funded pier with emergency response and patrol boats and the Hampton River Marina, according to the letter.
The marina is estimated to be the largest contributor to the Hampton economy from the harbor, the letter states, and is the docking place for barge support at Seabrook Station nuclear power plant.
“Without expedited dredge maintenance, vessels based within the harbor may soon be unable to reach the open ocean,” the letter states. “We respectfully request that you give all possible consideration to expediting the maintenance of this harbor which is critical for these businesses.”
The letter comes one month after selectmen from Hampton and Seabrook, as well as state officials and private stakeholders, wrote to Shaheen asking her to help in getting the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the harbor, shared by Hampton and Seabrook. The selectmen, the state’s Chief Harbor Master Tracy Shattuck and representatives from Eastman’s Docks, Yankee Fishermen’s Cooperative and the marina all signed the letter to Shaheen asking for her assistance.
The Army Corps of Engineers has stated it does not have funds to dredge the harbor and is not able to predict when that will change, according to the February letter from town officials to Shaheen. Haley Dorgan, a spokesperson from Shaheen’s office, said Shaheen intends to push for funding to be added to the Army Corps of Engineers’ budget for the dredging.
“Sen. Shaheen will continue to urge Republican leadership in Congress to ensure consistent, reliable funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, which has enjoyed broad bipartisan support, so that the agency can undertake critical maintenance projects like the one in Hampton Harbor,” said Dorgan.