Our nations’ small ports and harbors serve as the lifeblood of their communities and greatly contribute to the local, regional and national economy. They are home to fishing fleets, marinas and recreational facilities, and are critical to maintaining and creating jobs. The international trade, recreational boating and commercial fishing at these small ports is more important to the economic health of coastal port communities, and to our nation, now than ever before.
In 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget for small shallow draft ports was cut in half nationwide, leaving nearly all of PNWA’s supported small projects zeroed out. Without adequate funding, the navigation channels leading to these ports will silt in and the jetties protecting these waterways will crumble. These are typically rural areas, and the ports, their tenants, and related industries provide employment for a significant proportion of these communities. Without the access to the ocean, these coastal communities will be left with few other economic development options.
PNWA has worked with the Corps and Congress to secure funding in the annual workplan process to meet the maintenance needs of small ports. We have been very successful in this effort, with PNWA member projects receiving a significant share of workplan dollars. Additionally, PNWA has worked to secure a small port set-aside from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) to help meet the navigation needs at these ports. While these efforts have increased small port funding in the near term, PNWA continues to fight for a long-term viable solution to meet the needs of our Northwest emerging harbors.