News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) announced that they have successfully convinced the Army Corps of Engineers to fully dredge the Columbia River between Sand Island and Chinook, ensuring that the Port of Chinook can stay open. 

Silt build-up has been an ongoing issue at the Port of Chinook, and it was made worse after the December 2007 storms.  The problem was so bad that the fishermen and crabbers who moor at the port risked getting stuck on dangerous shoals when they entered the channel, and port officials feared they would have to close.

Murray and Baird argued that the Corps should make the shallow draft port a priority.  As a result of the lawmakers’ work, Corps officials have agreed to spend $1.5 million provided in a FY 2008 emergency funding bill to fully clear the channel using a dredge currently mobilized at the Port of Ilwaco.  Dredging is scheduled to begin on or about Oct. 3.

“The channel at the Port of Chinook has reached a crisis point, and port officials were afraid they wouldn’t be able to stay open.  We made it clear to the Corps that we needed to take action – and we needed to take action now,” Senator Murray said.  “With the additional money – and by using a dredge that is already in the area – we can save on mobilization costs and keep the channel open for the crabbers and fishermen who call the Port of Chinook home.  I’m glad we were able to convince the Corps that fully dredging the Port of Chinook is essential to preserve jobs and keep the local economy going.”

“The Port of Chinook pumps millions of dollars into the Pacific County economy every year, and the Corps’ original plan for cleaning it up was simply unacceptable,” Congressman Baird said.  “For months, Senator Murray and I simply refused to take no for answer, and we pushed for a solution like this.  Getting this money was literally a matter of survival for the fishing industry in the port.  It will not only benefit the people who live and work there, but all of Southwest Washington.  Senator Murray and I were committed to doing everything possible get this dredging project in motion and thankfully our hard work paid off in the end.”

About 350 jobs are associated with businesses that rely on the Port of Chinook, and the direct economic impact is estimated at $2.9 million from 10,000 boat trips into the port.  Dan Todd, manager of the Port of Chinook, said the decision to dredge was “great news.”

“Thanks to Senator Murray and Congressman Baird, this money is going to keep the port open for business,” Todd said.  “I can’t tell you how much it means to this community that our port will be dredged this year.  Our economy depends on this port, and dredging the channel means jobs.  We really appreciate how hard the Senator and Congressman worked to make this happen.  It’s a really big ‘wow!’”