- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

PETERSBURG, Alaska (AP) - The southeast Alaska town of Petersburg is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a dredging project to address a growing problem at one of its main harbors for commercial fishing operations.

The Petersburg Borough Assembly has asked the federal agency to help it conduct a feasibility study to dredge the south harbor, where many of the larger boats have been going aground due to the rising basin.

“Fifty-eight foot boats is primarily what we’re bringing in and out of this area. Some of our bigger boats get up to 100 feet,” Harbor Master Glorianne Wollen told the assembly. “These boats are drawing 10 to 12, 13 feet of boat underneath them at a zero tide and so they’re going aground especially at the entrances.”

The borough has found that it qualifies for federal help for the project through the 1960 River and Harbor Act, which allows the Corps to study, plan and construct small navigation projects that have not been authorized by Congress.

A proposal from the Corps, which installed Petersburg’s north harbor, says the federal agency would pay for about half the costs of the dredging and take over part of the permanent maintenance of the south harbor.

“I’m still on cloud nine, I cannot believe how decent, how super cool this proposal is that they’re offering us,” Wollen said.

Assembly members have approved $325,000 for the dredging study, KFSK-FM reported (https://bit.ly/2aMMnSO). But assembly member Bob Lynn expressed concern that the borough could spend the money without the Army Corps of Engineers fully committing to the project.

“What concerns me is where we’re going in the future with this,” Lynn said. “I think it’s an absolutely excellent project, but I’ve got really strong concerns about where we are for funding in the future and I think it’s time we take a look at how we’re going to fund these harbors here.”

The project estimates that about 50,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils would need to be removed and stored, but the feasibility study would determine the exact amount.

Officials predict the project will be complete by 2019.

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Information from: KFSK-FM, https://www.alaska.net/~kfsk/

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