The Port of Coos Bay crew is currently at the Port of Garibaldi conducting our second dredge project with the state dredge, The Laura. Although the USACE dredges our federally owned waterways, many smaller ports are individually responsible for dredging their own boat basins. However, unlike the USACE, there is not direct access to affordable and readily available dredge equipment and personnel. The State of Oregon decided to address this problem by purchasing its own dredge and having one port be the steward of the dredge. The Port of Coos Bay was approached about a year and a half ago to be the dredge steward for the ports along the Southern Oregon Coast which we agreed to. Recently, our stewardship has expanded to include ports along the entire Oregon Coast which is what led us to our current project with the Port of Garibaldi. The Port of Garibaldi is the only seaport in Tillamook county located between the Port of Astoria and the Port of Newport. It is home to a very active marina with over 270 slips that are always filled. Due to the close proximity to Portland and surrounding areas, there is high demand from recreational fishermen for moorage slips. According to Michael Saindon, the Port Manager, their wait list is so long that they could probably fill another boat basin of the same size.
As a smaller port, the Port of Garibaldi really focuses on supporting small businesses as it is home to not only a marina but RV park, restaurants, shrimp, crab and fish processing facilities, a lumber mill and other recreational businesses. Due to limited space, the Port of Garibaldi needs to diversify how it operates and currently many areas are used for multi-use purposes. For example, in the spring and summer, their parking lot is usually filled with boats and trailers but in the winter, it is repurposed as a staging area for crabbing. The increasing tourism industry in Tillamook county has also shifted the focus of the Port of Garibaldi to find ways to integrate commercial fishing and the tourism industry such as working with fish buyers and retailers. The Port of Garibaldi has also been working on economic development and revitalization. They recently wrapped up $10 million in grant work and are waiting on another $7 million to improve the overall infrastructure of the marina.
Dredging is very important for the Port of Garibaldi due to its high volume of traffic in its marina. In addition, they have a tenant with a business on a floating barge that is at risk of being damaged since half of the barge rests on land during low tide. It’s also the only viable seaport between Astoria and Newport with many commercial fisheries. Thus, it’s important to maintain access for fishermen who want to save time during the fishing season to offload, refuel, and get groceries instead of having to travel further north or south.
The last dredging done at the Port of Garibaldi was 10 years ago in 2007. Therefore, there was a big need at the Port of Garibaldi for dredging and since they happened to be the only Port with their dredging permit ready, they were naturally chosen as the next dredge project. The Port of Coos Bay team will be removing 25,000 cubic yards of dredge material from the Port of Garibaldi’s boat basin and dredge to the authorized depth of 12 feet. The total project cost is about $500,000 for both dredging and obtaining the permit. Although this sounds costly, the alternative for a private contractor would be closer to $1 million. In the future, the Port of Garibaldi will look at ways to reduce the amount of sediment deposited into the boat basin. Currently, their boat basin is being fed by five rivers, with one right above the boat basin. Therefore, to reduce the need and frequency of dredging, the Port is looking at redirecting that sediment out into the channel.
However, for now, our four-man crew from the Port of Coos Bay is working on restoring the authorized depth within Port of Garibaldi’s boat basin. Due to the location and current patterns at the Port of Garibaldi, our crew dredges on the outgoing tide so that all the dredge material flows out into the channel. During dredging, one person is operating the dredge, another person is monitoring the fuel boat “Ms. Soco” and the other two are managing the pipe on the workboat.
Overall, despite challenges, we continue to make steady progress on the Port of Garibaldi dredging project. As the Port of Coos Bay continues to steward the state dredge, we continue to learn from each experience to improve the process for the next dredging project.