OXNARD, CALIF. – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) and local officials celebrated the beginning of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging of Channel Islands Harbor, which will provide sand to replenish Hueneme Beach. In March, Brownley announced that nearly $12 million would be made available for the project.
“Since coming to Congress, I have worked tirelessly to advocate for the funding necessary to dredge Channel Islands Harbor, which provides desperately needed sand to Hueneme Beach. This was a team effort, as Supervisor Kathy Long, Supervisor John Zaragoza, Channel Islands Harbor director Lyn Krieger, and local elected officials from the City of Port Hueneme advocated tirelessly – side-by-side with me – to make this dredge possible. While we can and should celebrate this victory for our community, we must also remain vigilant to ensure future dredging occurs on-time and is sufficient to keep Channel Island Harbor navigable and provide adequate sand for our beaches,” said Brownley.
“I am proud of the County’s collaboration and partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers and the effective advocacy of our Congressional Representative Julia Brownley that ensured the largest historical dredge of our Channel Islands Harbor Sand Trap. The efforts of all who invested their time and energy into making this a reality will celebrate as each grain of sand is transported to their rightful place,” said Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long.
“I am pleased to see that the dredging project is beginning. The City of Port Hueneme has suffered greatly with the erosion at Hueneme Beach. The sand trap at the Channel Island Harbor is almost to capacity. Moving the sand will be beneficial to all concerned and will improve safety and restore the beautiful scenery we enjoy. I would like to thank Congresswoman Julia Brownley, County Supervisor Kathy Long, and County Harbor Director Lyn Krieger for their hard work and diligence in obtaining the critically needed funds to dredge, and the many different agencies and departments who were involved and lastly our local State friends: the National Park Service and the Coast Guard. We thank you for the partnership and the good work,” said Ventura County Supervisor John Zaragoza.
“We are very happy to have this massive dredging project underway, both to clear the entrance to Channel Islands Harbor, and to provide much-needed sand to Hueneme Beach and points south. I am so grateful to Congresswoman Brownley for all of her efforts on behalf of the Harbor and the City of Port Hueneme. This is the largest dredging project in the history of the Harbor, and badly needed. Without her work, I am not sure this would have happened,” said Lyn Krieger, Director of the Ventura County Harbor Department.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began dredging Channel Islands Harbor decades ago because erosion was threatening Navy installations at Port Hueneme and the dredging provided the sand to replenish what had washed away. This project has historically been funded 100 percent by the federal government with the Navy contributing 19 percent. However, due to inadequate federal funding in FY2013, the Corps was only able to dredge a fraction of the sand that it normally dredges.
The next biannual dredge was not scheduled to occur until FY2015. However, Brownley worked with her House and Senate colleagues, including Senator Feinstein, to provide additional funds in the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations legislation for the backlog of harbor maintenance projects across the nation. At Brownley’s request, the President allocated a portion of those funds for the Channel Islands Harbor dredging project.
Funding will come from $4.4 million in the Army Corps of Engineers FY2014 Work Plan and $5.3 million in the White House’s FY2015 budget request. Additionally, the Navy committed to Congresswoman Brownley that it would fund its 19 percent of the total cost, bringing the total to nearly $12 million.
Brownley also authored two amendments to the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) that are intended to ensure the Army Corps has sufficient funds to prevent this crisis from reoccurring. Brownley’s amendments passed the House with broad bipartisan support.
The conference agreement includes several important provisions sought by Brownley: 1.) it increased authorization for the use of funds through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) from 67% in fiscal year 2015 to 100% in fiscal year 2025; 2.) it included Brownley’s House-passed amendment to require the Army Corps of Engineers to consider Navy activities when assessing the operation and maintenance needs of ports and harbors; and 3.) it included Brownley’s House-passed amendment to require the Army Corps of Engineers to study and report to Congress within 270 days and biannually afterwards on the regional and local economic development benefits of harbor maintenance activities.