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Crescent City Harbor ready for crab season despite tsunami; dredging almost done and temporary docks installed

Submitted by admin on Wednesday, 23 November 2011No Comment

Promises made more than eight months ago to have the Crescent City Harbor up and running in time for the December crab season have been kept.

Crescent City Harbormaster Richard Young said Monday that most of the dredging in the harbor has been completed and that a majority of the temporary docks are installed.

”They’re about 99 percent in,” Young said about the docks. “People are docked up to them and the fishermen have got a place to tie.”

When a tsunami generated by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in Japan decimated the harbor in March, it was initially unclear whether the harbor would be up and running in time for crab season — which is currently slated to start Dec. 15.

The tsunami washed in more than 75,000 cubic yards of sediment that had to be dredged, or removed, from the inner boat basin. an excavator on a barge has been working since mid-September to remove the excess silt from the harbor. Leaving the debris wasn’t an option, as boats could potentially get stuck in the sediment.

Crescent City Harbor District officials have been working since just after the tsunami to protect the livelihoods of local fishermen and ensure the fishermen have a place to dock this winter. Young said there are now spots for about 80 boats in the harbor.

”The dredging in the inner boat basin is completed,” Young said. “It’s down to its full design depth.”

Engineer Ward Stover said more than 120,000 yards of sediment was removed from the inner boat basin. He said some additional dredging still needs to be done around the harbor but that the next big step involves starting the inner boat basin reconstruction project in the spring.

Stover said the $35 million project will install all new docks in the harbor, replace metal pilings and rebuild the rock slope protection around the basin. Young said the Crescent City Harbor Commission approved the final plan for the inner boat basin last week and that they’ll be requesting bids for the project soon.

The majority of the project will be paid for using funds from the California Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency. however, the plan includes repairing some damage from a smaller tsunami in 2006 that was only deemed a state emergency and not a federal emergency, meaning FEMA funds aren’t involved and the coverage rate for damages is lower.

In addition, the harbor still has to cover 6.25 percent of the costs for rebuilding the harbor from the March event.

Young said the harbor still needs to come up with a few million dollars in funding to complete the project and keep it going as FEMA and CalEMA reimbursements trickle in. He said the harbor will need to borrow some money in order to keep the rebuild on track.

Commissioners are looking at applying for help through the state’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

”We’re going to look for grant funding to the extent that we can,” Young said.

In the meantime, he said, the harbor is available to the local fleet of fishermen yearning to drop their crab pots in the ocean. however, he said some of the fleet has headed to San Francisco for the season because it has already been delayed on the North Coast from Dec. 1 to Dec. 15.

”A lot of guys have gone to San Francisco,” Young said. “San Francisco was really good last year.”

Megan Hansen can be reached at 441-0511 or mhansen@times-standard.com.

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