Humboldt Bay is the California North Coast’s only deep-water port and serves as the region’s major maritime transportation link to the rest of the world. As the only harbor between San Francisco and Coos Bay with channels of sufficient size to accommodate large commercial vessels, maintaining safe navigable depths in the Bay is key for a thriving waterfront. The Harbor District manages Bay channels that connect communities, support commercial fishing, enhance recreational access and provide access to docks where wood products are loaded on oceangoing vessels. The District recently purchased and retrofitted a cutter head suction dredge for this purpose.
Annual maintenance dredging of Humboldt Bay is vital to maintaining safe and navigable access. The Bay has been managed for shipping commerce since 1881 when the interior channels were first constructed. Federal channels in Humboldt Bay are dredged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Any other area that requires dredging is the responsibility of local governments, in this area that is the Harbor District.
Maintenance dredging in Humboldt Bay outside of the Federal Channels had been done on a case by case basis and was expensive. The District’s dredge purchase was made possible due to a partnership with PG&E in a cost-effective solution that will provide better access to the Bay and save money. As part of this partnership agreement, the Harbor District acquired King Salmon Fisherman’s Canal and 30 acres of upland, and agreed to a one-time canal dredging. In return, PG&E paid the District $2 million and will pay for all permit costs. The District dredge Nehalem is now available to help maintain navigational access throughout the Bay.