MACHIASPORT, Maine — At the request of the town, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, is proposing to dredge the Federal Navigation Project in Bucks Harbor.
Bucks Harbor is used mainly for commercial purposes and supports a large fleet of more than 90 vessels, including floats, lobster cars and salmon barges, as well as several recreational vessels.
“The purpose of the proposed navigation improvement project is to increase the amount of anchorage area and establish a designated channel and turning basin for the Federal Navigation Project,” Project Manager Christopher Hatfield, of the Corps’ New England District’s Engineering-Planning Division, said in a release.
The recommended plan will expand the existing project in Buck’s Harbor from 11 acres of 8-foot-deep anchorage and 2 acres of 8-foot maneuvering area to a total of 13.5 acres of 6-foot anchorage, 20.6 acres of 8-foot anchorage, and an 80-foot-wide by 8-foot-deep access channel along the harbor’s south side. About an acre of turning basin will be added to the terminus of the access channel. The project size will increase by a total of 24.2 acres.
Construction of this project will involve a combination of maintenance and improvement dredging for a total of 88,300 cubic yards of material, which will be placed into scows, and towed to the Machias Bay Disposal Site, about two miles from Bucks Harbor in state waters.
“Dredging and disposal activities will be limited to a period between now and April 9, 2009, to avoid impacts to biological resources of fisheries and shellfish,” Hatfield said.
According to recent condition surveys, Bucks Harbor has a mean tidal range of 12.5 feet, and a spring tidal range of 14.4 feet. Harbor depths gradually deepen from about 5 feet in the inner harbor to 30 feet at the Machias Bay entrance. Navigation problems created by these conditions are overcrowding due to a lack of deep-water anchorage; no clear access channel because of congestion created by moored vessels, and exposure to hazardous storm conditions at the entrance to the harbor from Machias Bay.
There have been no harbor improvements or maintenance since 1974. An Environmental Assessment for this work has been prepared and is available for review. Public comments should be forwarded by Nov. 28 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Engineering-Planning Division, 696 Virginia Road, Concord, Mass. 01742-2751. Send to the attention of Hatfield.
The public notice, feasibility report and Environmental Assessment can be reviewed at www.nae.usace.army.mil. Select “Projects” and “Bucks Harbor, Machiasport, Maine: Navigation Improvement and Maintenance Dredging.”
Preliminary determinations indicate that the proposed activity will not affect endangered species or critical habitat designated as endangered or threatened.
The proposed work has been coordinated with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and is not likely to affect any cultural or archaeological features or resources.