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Federal grant money expected to boost Coquille Tribe’s maritime commerce and trade opportunities

Rugged dock.
Tribal One
The Lot 3 area where the heavy-duty work will take place on the wharf. "We can say work through the grant will transform the dock into a safe and secure terminal for a wide variety of vessels," Tribal One project manager Ray Doering said.

The Coquille Tribe says it’s landed one of the biggest competitive grants ever in its history. The $7.7 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation will benefit the tribe’s wharf and port development, and is part of the $662 million 2023 Port Infrastructure Development Program managed by the federal Maritime Administration.

The money will fund three phases of improvements to the Ko’Kwel Wharf near the tribe’s Mill Casino Hotel & RV Park in North Bend. In short, dock repairs will be made to sections which have seen little or no work in 40 years. A 600-700 ft. extension will be added as well. 

Ship at dock.
Tribal One
The National Geographic Sea Bird ship at dock. Tribal One says improvements to Ko’Kwel Wharf can provide layberthing for ships to refit and resupply for their next season of operation.

Ray Doering is the project manager for the wharf. He told KLCC that the final piece is making 800 amp electrical service available to large ships that dock there for extended periods. 

“What a lot of ports are doing now, and we’re certainly out to be one of them, is providing electricity in heavy enough volume that they can turn off their diesel engines and connect to electricity here on the dock face,” explained Doering. “It’ll be a lot cheaper, and it’s a huge environmental improvement.” 

Doering is with Tribal One, an organization that helps the Coquille Tribe with economic development. He said there’s potential in overseas commerce that this wharf improvement will support, including possibly with Asian markets. 

In a release from the tribe, Chair Brenda Meade hailed the news, and said the Tribe was proud to take part in the nationwide effort to rebuild their port infrastructure.

“With this funding, our Tribal One team will continue their work to rebuild Ko’Kwel Wharf as a productive and reliable economic resource that will help secure the future of the Coquille Tribe and our North Bend community and become a valuable member of the nation’s maritime industry,” she said. 

Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with U.S. Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) and Val Hoyle (OR-04), announced on Nov. 1, 2023, the awarding of those grant funds, which were included in a total of $36,489,508 in federal investments heading to the ports of Astoria, the Tribe’s Ko’Kwel Wharf, and Newport.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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