A long time coming

Fallen Leaf Lake Park is officially dedicated as a public open space

By Heather Acheson, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

While work is being done to upgrade the picnic shelter at Fallen Leaf Lake Park, temporary public access is available via a short trail that begins at Fallen Leaf Softball Field. A trail head and parking lot are located at Northeast 23rd Avenue and Birch Street.

The picnic shelter will open for reservations in 2012.

For more information, call 834-5307.

While work is being done to upgrade the picnic shelter at Fallen Leaf Lake Park, temporary public access is available via a short trail that begins at Fallen Leaf Softball Field. A trail head and parking lot are located at Northeast 23rd Avenue and Birch Street.

The picnic shelter will open for reservations in 2012.

For more information, call 834-5307.

Camas Mayor Scott Higgins recently asked City Administrator Lloyd Halverson at what point he targeted Fallen Leaf Lake Park as a place he wanted to see owned by and open to the public.

His answer?

“From day one.”

That’s quite a statement, considering that Halverson started his job in Camas 22 years ago.

Last Tuesday, the successful completion of that long-term goal was celebrated at the official dedication ceremony for Fallen Leaf Lake Park.

Approximately 80 people attended the event, that included a backdrop of blue skies and sunshine that glistened off the lake surface. As master of ceremonies, Higgins highlighted the length of time the project has been in the works, and the dedication of the many involved in the endeavor.

Among those in attendance were both current and past city officials and council members, as well as the three mayors who came before Higgins including Paul Dennis, Nan Henriksen and Dean Dossett.

“All of those people kept their eyes on the prize,” he said. “It is because of their will to open this asset to the community that we are here today.”

Efforts to purchase the site, located at 2911 N.E. Everett St., have been underway for years. It was officially acquired by the city in June for $2.05 million from Koch RP Holdings I, LLC. Koch Industries, Inc., which has owned the Georgia-Pacific Camas paper mill since 2005. The mill had primarily used the property for employee functions.

Funding for the purchase was provided through a $1 million grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, $500,000 in grant funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, and another grant from Clark County Conservation Futures for $380,000. The remaining $170,000 was paid with cash from the city’s Growth Management Act capital projects fund, which is supported in part by real estate excise taxes.

“It’s very exciting to be investing in the future for our citizens,” said Pete Mayer, director of Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation.

The Fallen Leaf property includes shoreline, forest, wetlands and the 20-acre Fallen Leaf Lake, once called “Dead Lake.” It provides opportunities for hiking, picnicking, wildlife watching, fishing and swimming.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who was credited as being an advocate for programs to protect private forest land, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund, spoke during the event.

“This will be here for generations to come,” Murray said. “Like many of us here, I know how important it is to have a place to escape the hectic pace of life.”

The park is the last major acquisition to complete the community’s vision for a linked system of waterfront parks and habitat. It is a system that includes the preservation by Camas and other partners of more than 800 acres.

South of the park, the city already owns a 6-acre parcel that is home to a softball field, bleachers, dugouts, restrooms and paved parking area. On the west side of the lake, there are 50 acres of forested hillside owned by Columbia Land Trust. The city also owns properties to the north on either side of Lake Road.

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