'We don't have a tax base ... so we have no funds for repairs'

'We don't have a tax base ... so we have no funds for repairs' »Play Video
The Siltcoos River Dam portage

DUNES CITY, Ore. - The steel contraption atop the Siltcoos River Dam is a portage, designed to allow canoers and kayakers to safely cross the impoundment and follow the river to the sea.

"We come up here every year," said Brian Johnson of Los Angeles, "and this is one of the things that we always enjoy doing is going all the way to the ocean."

Hundreds of visitors use the portage each year, which makes it important for local tourism.

And it's falling apart.

"We were informed that the lower end of the portage is in disrepair; it has a hole in it," said Ed Scarberry, a Dunes City Councilor.

The state wants the city to pay for repairs, per a licensing agreement.

There's a catch, Scarberry said.

"We don't have a tax base in Dunes City," he said, "so we have no funds for repairs."

While the city works out how to fund the repairs, land owner International Paper Company has stepped up to help.

"In fact, IP has offered to donate materials that will facilitate with the repair," said Fred Hilden, the Dunes City recorder.

That will keep the gates open for the summer season.

Meanwhile, one option off the table entirely: removing the portage. Permits to remove the structure would cost more than the repairs, according to city officials.