PORT OF ILWACO - Port of Ilwaco commissioners got some good news Monday. Martin Hudson, civilian chief of the planning branch of the Portland U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office, announced the corps has scheduled dredging of the Ilwaco Channel for Aug. 5.

"We're preparing the contract documents now," Hudson said.

Port Manager Mack Funk said he took Hudson and his assistant, Doug Putnam, on a tour of port facilities Monday. "We need more dredging inside the harbor, to Jessie's and the fuel dock," Funk said.

"We're authorized to dredge the channel," Hudson said, "but we have to stop before the harbor."

It would take an act of Congress to authorize the Corps to dredge into the harbor, Hudson said. Another way is to do a Section 107 small navigation project study.

"That would take a year or two," Hudson said. "Depending on the complexity of the project, it would cost between $100,000 and $500,000." He said the first $100,000 is free. Any cost above $100,000 is a 50-50 cost-share.

"The easiest way is for Congress to authorize the dredging," Hudson said. "We're ready to act either way and help out any way we can."

Funk and Commissioner Jim Stiebritz went to Washington, D.C., in February to talk to local members of Congress about the dredging problem, among other things. He said Rep. Brian Baird and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are working on the proposal.

Funk told Hudson the port needs another site for dredge material deposit. "It would be an uphill battle because of the shallow water and winter habitat for numerous species. NOAA Fisheries and the state Department of Ecology would have to okay it," Hudson said.

And, Funk said, the presence of small amounts of DDT in the dredge material "is still a concern." Hudson said in that case, an upland disposal area would be the way to go.

Funk said a Section 107 study was done by the corps in 1978 that resulted in dredging the channel to 16 feet and cutting an opening in the middle of the pile dyke that vastly improved navigation into the harbor. He pointed out to Hudson that the corps dredges inside the harbor entrance in Westport. "We'll have to wait and see what happens in Congress," Funk said.

"We want to get to 'yes' the best we can," Hudson said. "We'll be helping any way we can."

He said there's a pot of money in the small-projects coffers for a Section 107 study that's available any time.

The port commission tabled a request from commercial fishermen Brian Cutting and Randy Kary to keep their spots on P Dock during the summer. Funk had asked commercial boats to move to other moorage areas to keep P Dock open for sport fishing boats.

Cutting said moving would create a hardship for him getting to the boat hoist near P Dock to unload his catch and load bait. "I want to stay (at P Dock) for the convenience," he said.

"We try to accommodate everybody so it will be peaceful and smooth," Commissioner Frank Unfred said. "We want to help people, not put them out of business."

Funk said commercial fishermen are "like cows going to the same stall in the barn and salmon returning to their home river to spawn. They like to stay where they are. But, we need to consider some changes and different ways of doing things."

Commissioners will discuss the issue at the June 17 meeting.

Port Finance Officer Mary DeLong reported that work on the new restrooms at the port are ahead of schedule and the structure could be completed before the target date of mid-July.

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