Martin's Bar selected for proposed Woodland boat ramp

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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WOODLAND — The Port of Woodland indicated Wednesday that Martin's Bar/Lions Day Park is the agency's choice for a proposed $4.1-million boat ramp along the Columbia River.

The site is four to five miles downstream of the mouth of the Lewis River.

Nelson Holmberg, port executive director, said the process of applying and receiving permits and grants for the ramp, plus construction, could take two to four years.

No money from the port's $200,000 in annual property tax revenue will be used to build the ramp, he added.

Martin's Bar was selected over a site at Austin Point on the north side of the Lewis River just upstream from its confluence with the Columbia.

Wally Jajou, an engineer and port consultant, said Martin's Bar has several advantages over Austin Point.

Martin's Bar would cost about $1 million less, and will need about $35,000 in erosion control every five to 10 years compared to $115,500 for erosion control at Austin Point, Jajou said.

Mitigation costs for Martin's Bar are estimated at $150,000 compared to $600,000 at Austin Point. Martin's Bar is closer to Interstate 5, preferred by emergency services agencies and was preferred by a wide margin at a public meeting earlier this fall, plus again on Wednesday.

"Martin's Bar seems like the more appropriate site,'' Jajou said.

Either site would have a four-lane boat ramp, parking for 159 tow vehicle trailers and 66 single vehicles, along with four to six restrooms. Martin's Bar ramp would have three boarding floats plus 100 feet of breakwater to reduce waves from the Columbia.

The Woodland ramp will be modeled after the Willow Grove ramp on the Columbia River downstream of Longview. Jajou was Willow Grove project manager.

Holmberg said much remains to be done to bring the ramp to reality. Grants must be applied for and received. Getting the required federal, state and county permits may take two years alone, he added.

The port's plan currently is just to build a boat ramp, parking and restrooms. There is room adjacent to the Martin's Bay for more park amenities, but that is not in the port's current strategic plan, Holmberg said.

"To get started, folks were interested in a single-purpose (boat launching) facility,'' he said.

Cowlitz County commissioner Michael Karnofski said the county is supportive of the Port of Woodland boat ramp and has contributed rural economic development dollards to help with the planning.