Bay Center is an unincorporated community located approximately 16 miles south of South Bend. Bounded by the Palix River and Willapa Bay, Bay Center is the geometric center of Willapa Bay and home to several commercial oyster-growing operations. In this community, commercial fishing and aquaculture dominates the marina. The Port facilities accommodate a thriving shell fish and crabbing industry. The current population of Bay Center is 300. A growing residential community, will present a number of opportunities for the Port and the community in the coming years. The Port owns no upland property in Bay Center.
The Port operates a small marina in Bay Center, providing moorage for oyster barges and fishing vessels. The marina has a capacity for approximately 40 vessels. The marina is located in the navigation channel of the Palix River. The Port owns a single 2.5 acre underwater lot located along the center of the navigation channel, east of the county bridge. The marina consists of two floats accessed by gangway ramps on either side of the channel. The floating docks, gangways and piling were replaced in 2003.
The Port provides a dumpster and sani-can on the adjacent private property for marina users.
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The Bay Center Marina is located totally within the designated federal navigational channel of the Palix River. Historically the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dredged this channel on a 2 to 3 year cycle to maintain depths of -10 ft MLLW. The channel extends from the marina approximately 4000 feet to the self-scouring river channel. Approximately 10,000 cy of sediment accumulates in this channel annually. Regular dredging is required to maintain the viability of this marina.
The federal budget no longer includes funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the nation’s small Ports. The Port of Willapa Harbor is working to devlop a locally managed bay-wide dredging program.
The marina provides access to Willapa Bay. A boat launch is located adjacent to the port-owned floats.