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COOS BAY — Tuesday evening the Coos Bay Planning Commission voted to grant the Jordan Cove Energy Project permission to carry out an eelgrass mitigation plan.

Part of JCEP's plans include widening the Coos Bay navigation channel, which would disrupt a field of eelgrass.

Eelgrass is a protected species that provides habitat for various marine life. If a project disturbs marine plant life, a mitigation plan must be put in place to preserve the species, per state and federal regulations.

The applicant proposes to move chutes of eelgrass from a proposed dredge site to an area south of the airport.

While state agencies will be weighing in on the mitigation project, it was the Planning Commission’s responsibility to determine whether or not the project could be defined as mitigation under the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan, and whether or not mitigation was allowed in that specific part of the estuary.

The Lane Council of Governments prepared the staff report and found the project did meet the requirements of mitigation under the CBEMP.

If state and federal entities decide to approve separate permits that involve eelgrass mitigation, the JCEP would be held to a five-year monitoring period. If the eelgrass fails to take root in its new location then the applicants will be held accountable and made to develop a new plan to plant additional eelgrass.

Opponents of the mitigation project argue the project puts juvenile crab habitats at risk and that the proposal does not enhance eelgrass habitats.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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