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Federal Cuts Slow Dredging, Fishing At Oregon Inlet

A picture of the Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet.

Federal budget cuts are making it harder to keep a shipping channel open on the Outer Banks.  Fishermen use the channel to get in and out of Oregon Inlet under the Bonner Bridge. 

Bob Sattin is the Chief of Operations with the Wilmington District of the Army Corp of Engineers.  He said one dredge is working to clear the inlet, but paying for it is a problem.

“We have to prioritize the funding that we receive for all of our navigation projects nationwide and Oregon Inlet just does not meet the criteria of a deep-draft port for international or interstate commerce.  So it falls into the category of low-use channels and low-use channels just aren't getting the federal funding anymore,” Sattin said. “We're relying on state and local funding to do that.”

Sattin said  the channel is supposed to be fourteen feet deep, but recently was as shallow as two feet.  He says another dredge is on the way. 

Meanwhile, some fishermen are using Virginia ports to unload their catches.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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