Posted on September 25, 2023
Douglas County Commissioners are celebrating the successful dredging of Salmon Harbor in Winchester Bay, a historic project that wrapped up on time and under budget.
The Salmon Harbor Marina, an important water access in the coastal town of Winchester Bay, was last dredged in 2003, county commissioners said. With debris and sediment building up in the harbor and threatening local commerce and wildlife health, commissioners proposed working with federal and state agencies to mobilize equipment to clean up the harbor in 2021. Several meetings between county officials, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of State Lands, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ensued.
Commissioners were able to secure a 10-year dredging permit for Salmon Harbor, but had to commit more than $1 million to the dredging effort. After discussions with the Army Corps of Engineers, officials were granted permission to use their dredging equipment, saving a significant chunk of money. In September 2023, contractors removed 10,522 cubic yards of sediment from the harbor with a total cost of $203,352, well below the huge budget originally estimated for the project, county commissioners said.
“We are pleased that we were able to get the dredging done, but the journey to accomplishing this was quite an ordeal,” stated Commissioner Chris Boice. “Our Harbor Master Jim Zimmer did a phenomenal job coordinating with multiple agencies and hurdling various obstacles; however, the marina community shouldn’t have to wait so long for this important work to get done. I’m exploring the option of acquiring our own dredging equipment. If the County were to acquire a suction dredge, it would not only save time and money, but it would also allow us to do this work, day in and day out.”
Douglas County officials said regular dredging can mitigate hazards caused by sediment buildup, improve access for vessels, improve the marine environment, extend the life of marina structures, and enhance the local economy as well as several other benefits.