Feds budget $500,000 for Bodega Harbor dredging

Sonoma County officials on Tuesday applauded signs that the Army Corps of Engineers is gearing up to conduct maintenance dredging of the boat channel into Bodega Harbor.

The federal agency's latest budget includes $500,000 for planning and permitting needed to perform future dredging, county officials said.

Last completed in 2005, the dredging ensures clear passage for vessels coming in and out of Bodega Harbor, home to the Sonoma Coast's commercial and sport fishing fleet. It is usually conducted in 11-year cycles to maintain depths of 12 feet, county officials said.

An estimated $6 million will be needed to complete the project, which aims to remove about 8,400 cubic yards of sand from within the channel and around the Coast Guard Station at Doran Beach, according to the county.

Given the competition for scarce Army Corps funds, it's a good sign the planning money has been allocated, Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart said in a county statement.<NO1><NO> With sufficient federal funding in future budgets, the project is in line for potential approval next year, Hart said.

"We value Sonoma County's partnership to keep the harbor safe for commercial and recreation boating and the U.S. Coast Guard's search and rescue mission unencumbered," Lt. Col. John K. Baker, San Francisco District Commander for the Army Corps, said in the county statement.

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