By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Dredging has begun this week on the access channels to Crescent Citys Harbor.

Heavily sanded-in, the channel that connects the open ocean to the inner harbor will have its bottom scrapped and vacuumed for the next four weeks.

The Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of the project and is paying 80 percent of the costs. Leaving the Harbor District responsible for the remaining $240,000.

This operation will provide 16 more feet of water depth, allowing bigger boats and safer passage into the basin, according to Rich Taylor, Crescent City Harbor District CEO.

To contain the 60,000 cubic yards of muck, a huge spoils area or dredge pond was dug out on shore just north of the harbor.

As the materials are sucked up, a pump will send it through floating pipes onto shore and into the spoils area, said Vern Schovel, owner of the dredge he calls the Nehalem.

As he describes it, water and muck pumped into the dug out spoils area will separate. The muck will settle to the bottom and clear water will flow back into the bay, he said.

To get rid of that settled material, Taylor said the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority has agreed to take 10,000 cubic yards. It is yet to be decided where the rest will go.

Its been four years since the outer channel was last dredged. Its been even longer for the inner channel.

Ideally, it should be done every five years, Taylor said. And now that the Federal Government has control over both parts of the channel, regular dredging should not be a problem, according to Taylor.

Visitors to the harbor, near Citizens Dock Road will see the mother ship Eland, a 160 foot vessel that escorted the Nehalem dredge from the mouth of the Columbia river.

And a close look at the Nehalem reveals a gnarly cone shaped cutter, poking forward, spiked with eight-inch teeth. These are slightly curved to aid the drilling motion and are powered by a 90-horsepower engine.

Schovel, the owner, has been in the profession for 37 years and is more than willing to talk with passers-by.