Vessel owners from Rye Harbor want action on what they say is a long-overdue dredging project.
They’ll meet Monday night with state and federal officials to talk about the need for that maintenance, which would be carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Lobsterman Keper Connell docks his boat, the Figment, in Rye Harbor.
He says rising seas, bigger storm surges, and more development nearby are all worsening the natural sedimentation at the edges of the harbor.
It hasn't been dredged since the 1980s, which Connell says creates safety risks and economic obstacles for fishing, charter, tour and private vessels at the marina.
“It is a working water community, and we need to have access to the water,” he says.
Connell feels the Army Corps, which conducted a survey in preparation for Rye dredging in 2014, has delayed the project because of how the local fishing fleet has shrunk.
But he says the lack of dredging is hastening that decline.
"There's a sense of urgency here that has increased, and it needs to be taken care of – there needs to be a plan,” he says.
Army Corps spokesman Tim Dugan says they won’t attend Monday’s meeting, but they would begin the dredging if funding was appropriated.
“Rye Harbor dredging would need to compete with other small harbors across the nation for the limited funds available for dredging each fiscal year,” Dugan says in a statement.
The Army Corps recently agreed to fund dredging in nearby Hampton Harbor, after pressure from U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and other fishery advocates.
Connell says he expects a representative from Shaheen’s office, among others, to attend Monday’s meeting. It’s at 7 p.m. at Rye Public Library.