Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the start of dredging on the Swinomish Channel in Skagit County. The channel was long overdue for dredging, and more than 500 jobs could have been lost if nothing was done. In 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers supported only two dredging projects on small waterways in Washington state -- in Swinomish Channel and Keystone Harbor/Crockett Lake in Island County.
"The Swinomish Channel is one of Skagit County's major engines for economic development," said Cantwell. "Dredging the channel will support the local fishing, manufacturing and tourism industries by keeping a vital transportation route open and accessible. The start of dredging today is an important step forward for the economy of Skagit County and Northwest Washington."
Cantwell has been a long-time supporter of dredging the Swinomish Channel. Last year, she supported the inclusion of $30 million in the FY2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill for smaller dredging projects like Swinomish Channel. She also sent a letter to the Army Corps in February advocating that projects in Washington state, specifically the channel dredging, receive sufficient support. Swinomish Channel was allocated $2.28 million of for dredging.
A study commissioned by the Port of Skagit found that the channel would have become impassable as early as 2015 without dredging, which would have put 500 jobs at risk. Marine businesses and boaters utilizing the Swinomish Channel generate approximately $92 million per year.
The Swinomish Channel provides a critical link for the Coast Guard and commercial and private vessels between Saratoga passage and the San Juan Islands. The channel provides access to a growing marine manufacturing hub, several marinas and the La Conner waterfront. It also allows the Swinomish and Upper Skagit Tribes to exercise their treaty fishing rights.