Port of Nehalem is considering funding of a USGS Nehalem Bay sedimentation study

Nehalem Bay

It is apparent that the Nehalem Bay is rapidly accumulating sediment. The estuary and salmon habitat is shrinking, and flooding has increased as the Bay shallows.  There is a reduction in navigable waterway, and in places the channel has disappeared. The Port recognizes that this sedimentation is more pronounced downstream from the Mohler Bridge.  There appears to be a significant accumulation near Bott’s Marsh, the Wheeler waterfront and in the vicinity of Nehalem Bay State Park.  The Bay is important to the residents of the area. It is a major contributor to the local economy by providing enhanced recreational opportunities (such as boating, kayaking and fishing) and wildlife viewing.  As fiduciary of public money, the Port needs reliable, credible and objective information to base its future expenditures and fulfill its mission.  This study by the United States Geological Survey will provide an analysis that will aid the Port in this effort.

At the regular Port of Nehalem Board meeting in May, the Port decided to consider funding a portion of the costs of Task 1 and Task 2.

Benefit to Public: The Port’s Mission statement reads, in part: “Enhance the health, habitat and navigability of the Nehalem River for the benefit of the Port District, Residents and Visitors”.   However, the Nehalem does not have a Federal designation as navigable river.  This severely restricts funding and what the Port can do to accomplish its mission. The USGS study is vital to providing information that will guide the Port with its mission of enhancing the health and navigability of the Nehalem River and protecting the natural beauty of the Bay for all to enjoy.

Project Description:

Task 1:  Document the locations and rates of sedimentation in the bay and produce a summary report.

Task 2:  Coordinate with researchers determining rates of sedimentation in marshes before and after European settlement.

Task 3:  Determine the amount of sediment transported to the bay over multiple years and produce a summary report.  (May require longer than two years. Develop basin-wide approach for linking sediment sources with Nehalem Bay aggradation.)

Task 4:  Develop basin-wide approach for linking sediment sources with Nehalem Bay aggradation

Costs to Port of Nehalem: The Port is considering funding $20,000 of the total estimated costs of $61,500 for Tasks 1 and 2.  The remainder is proposed to be funded by the USGS (subject to availability of USGS Cooperative Matching Funds) and organizations concerned about the health of the bay. ($21,500 by USGS, $20,000 from the Port and $20,000 from others for an estimated total cost of $61,500).

Tasks 3 and 4 may be considered for funding in the future by the Port.