An upcoming dredging project will remove some 130,000 cubic yards of built-up material at the mouth of the Scarborough River. Contributed / Keith Hall

Federal funding has come through for the Scarborough River dredging project, which could begin in April.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will receive $4.8 million for the project through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, according to an announcement from Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.

“Given the situation we have at the mouth of the river, it’s really an urgent need,” said Scarborough Town Manager Tom Hall, who contacted the Army Corps about the project last fall.

About 130,000 cubic yards of built-up material on the floor of the Pine Point channel will be removed, which will benefit the local fishing industry and recreational boaters.

“We have commercial fishermen coming in and out of the channel,” said Scarborough Marine Resource Officer and Harbor Master Eugene O’Neill. “If they can’t get in and out at low tide, that affects their business.”

Scarborough has “a very active harbor as far as commercial fishing goes,” he said. The number of fishermen using the harbor was unavailable.


It is crucial to the local economy to have the channel “wide open and safe,” O’Neill said, but it’s also important for recreational boaters.

“In some part, those are the folks we are more concerned about, because they’re not as familiar with the channel and how to come and go safely,” Hall said.

Keith Hall, a registered Maine Guide who has captained private guided fishing trips out of Pine Point for nearly 18 years, has seen firsthand the damage that can be done to boats when they run into sandbars.

“I had to tow one person last year that had lost power,” he said. “They were probably in about two feet of water by the time I got to them.”

If he hadn’t reached them soon enough, the captain said, they may have been stranded until high tide hours later. “A couple boats had to do that last year.”

“It was so bad at one point that, at low tide, people could walk out on it,” O’Neill said of one of the sandbars.


Keith Hall, a charter fishing boat captain in Scarborough, says he will be among those who directly benefit from the dredging project. Contributed / Keith Hall

In the first phase of the dredging, which could begin in April, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will remove roughly 30,000 cubic yards of material at the mouth of the river, the town manager said.

“Then they would come back, hopefully, as soon as next November,” he said.

Dredging is restricted to November through April to protect fish and lobster habitats.

The second round of dredging, he said, would dig up nearly 100,000 cubic yards of material.

Some of the sand, roughly 12,000 to 15,000 cubic yards of it, will go toward “beach nourishment,” he said, including replenishing sand on Western Beach in Scarborough.

The Scarborough River was last dredged in 2014, and is usually dredged every 10 years or so, the town manager said.

Hall doesn’t think the project eight years ago dredged up enough of the accumulated sand.

“I think that’s the time that one of the dredgers broke down on the river,” Hall said. “(The dredging) certainly helped at the time, but it seemed to maybe not go as far as they could have gone, as far as the depth of the channel goes.”

“I think that, particularly for myself, and even more importantly the lobstermen and some of the other commercial fishermen with larger boats, will definitely benefit from this,” Hall added.

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