The Oregon Coast Alliance and its supporters will not be appealing the City of Newport’s re-approval of the Teevin Brothers traffic analysis on the impacts of their long planned log export operations at the Port of Newport’s International Terminal.
Tevvin’s initial Traffic Impact Analysis had a flaw in that it did not adequately consider the traffic impact to those living up Running Springs Drive, which is the closest intersection to the east entrance to the International Terminal. There are only a few houses up Running Springs so the impact to those residents was deemed to be quite low. The council approved the update and re-certified the traffic analysis. Tuesday was the last day for Oregon Coast Alliance, The Landing Condominium Association and a private party to file an appeal of the city’s ruling. This afternoon Cameron La Follette, Land Use Director for the Oregon Coast Alliance notified interested parties that there would not be an appeal to the Land Use Board of Appeals on the council’s action.
However, there are some additional conditions that the Port of Newport will have to abide by before the larger Handymen logging ships can tie up at the terminal and load logs. The Handymen, which come with their own onboard cranes, require a dredging depth of 32 feet when fully loaded with logs. The depth off the end of the terminal is around 28 feet so further dredging is required.
To get federal and state approval for the deeper dredging requires a new series of permits from state and federal authorities. The port had hoped to get swift approval by making the request in the form of a simple amendment to the dredge request to restore the terminal to its original ship depth. But the Army Corps of Engineers is insisting on a new biological analysis as part of a new dredging application. It includes the port setting aside additional areas of Yaquina Bay and River that will make up for the loss of the deep bottom ecology that will be removed by the dredging. The port is currently in the process of trying to identify some of those bay and river areas that would be suitable as replacement habitat.
Bottom line: Port officials at a port commission meeting said to complete the biological analysis and habitat mitigation process before February (when all “in water” work must be completed by state law) is a very tight time line – one that may not be met. At the earliest, the dredging (in water work) to deepen the draft off the terminal might not begin until next November which means log shipments couldn’t start before the dredging is complete – log shipments beginning in late November/early December. In short, the port loses a year of income from log exports estimated to be $100,000 a month or more. Alcan Timber has been coveting the terminal for log shipments of its own which would add to port income.
The adequacy of the biological analysis and the quality of the mitigation set-asides preceding the dredging will be monitored and reviewed quite meticulously judging from Oregon Coast Alliance’s reputation dealing with environmental issues. So it’s probably safe to say that a couple more chapters in the Saga of the International Terminal may yet be written.