Skamania County working toward new Wind River boat ramp

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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STEVENSON — Skamania County plans to apply in 2013 for an approximately $4 million state grant to relocate and enlarge the popular boat ramp at the mouth of Wind River.

Scott Pineo, director of facilities and recreation for the county, said the new launch would be on the north side of state Highway 14 and contain slightly fewer than 100 parking spots.

The existing lot has 18 spots.

The county would apply to the state Recreation and Conservation Funding Board in spring of 2013 and, if funded, be awarded grant money that summer.

Grants are given for 75 percent of the cost of a project, he said. Skamania County is hoping the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area will help contribute toward the local 25 percent share.

The county owns the property where the new Wind River ramp would be built. It also has received a state grant to pay for the permit process and hopes to have all the permits needed by the end of this year.

The new Wind River ramp would have two launching lanes, plus a courtesy dock where boaters can tie-up while parking their vehicles.

Pineo estimated the cost of the new ramp at $5 million, but added the final amount also will depend on design and permit costs.

Wind River ramp gets intense use during April and May by spring chinook salmon anglers.

Pineo said officials have counted 18 vehicles in the parking lot, about 30 on the access road and another 125 trailers parked along state Highway 14.

While Skamania County's Drano Lake ramp is used almost exclusively by fishermen, the Wind River ramp is anticipated to attract some recreational boaters, he added.