Army Agrees to Dredge Channel Islands Harbor
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to dredge Channel Islands Harbor beginning in late March, a process that will move 2 million cubic yards of sand down the coast at a cost of $3.6 million, officials said.
Earlier this month, after reports that the dredging might be postponed until at least the fall, officials from Ventura County and the cities of Oxnard and Port Hueneme asked Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) for help in securing Army Corps funds.
Gallegly said the corps’ cooperation averted a “potentially life-threatening situation” at the harbor’s mouth. Each year, storms pile large amounts of sand at the entrance, which could cause large waves or force boats to run aground. The harbor, which is usually dredged to a depth of 30 feet every two years, is entering its third year without dredging.
Ventura County officials say the corps gives preference to harbors that have large commercial fishing facilities. Neil Cole, the corps’ project manager for Channel Islands Harbor, declined to comment but said the corps has limited funds and must prioritize its projects.
The Army pays 79% of the dredging costs and the Navy pays the rest. The sand is moved onto Silver Stand and Hueneme beaches, preventing excessive erosion of the coastline near the Pacific Test Missile Center at Point Mugu.
Cole said the corps usually avoids dredging between March and September because it interferes with the spawning of grunion. But he said it could reach an agreement with state Fish and Game officials to protect the grunion by adopting more expensive dredging procedures.