Anglers prefer Martin's Bar site for Columbia boat ramp

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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WOODLAND — Martin’s Bar/Lions Day Park is a much preferred site over Austin Point for a new Port of Woodland boat ramp.

Or at least it was last week by a 12-2 show of hands at an open house hosted by port officials.

The Port of Woodland began a process several years ago designed eventually to build a boat ramp, said Nelson Holmberg, port executive director.

Despite ramps upstream at Ridgefield Marina and downstream at Kalama, Woodland constituents have told the port another ramp is needed, Holmberg said.

Two locations are being considered.

Austin Point is on the north side of the Lewis River, just upstream from its confluence with the Columbia. Martin’s Bar/Lions Day Park is on the Columbia River, four to five miles downstream.

Holmberg said the Willow Grove boat ramp downstream of Longview is the model eyed by the Port of Woodland.

Wally Jajou, an engineer for Waterfront Engineering LLC, told a meeting here last week that either site can provide four launch lanes, with parking for 159 tow vehicle-trailers and 70 single vehicles.

Eight trailer spots and four single spots for the disabled would be included.

Holmberg said there is no cost estimate yet for a boat ramp. Grants would be sought to build the project. The port’s $200,000 in annual property tax revenues would not be used, he added.

Both sites have pros and cons.

Austin Point might need periodic maintenance dredging, would need trees removed and might have more mitigation requirements from state and federal regulatory agencies, Jajou said.

But the location is fairly sheltered, less affected by commercial ship traffic and would not need a breakwater.

Martin’s Bay/Lions Day Park is on Columbia, which was greatly preferred by fishermen.

Jajou said its mitigation requirements likely would be less costly and the design would make for easier traffic flow by separating the entrance and exit.

It likely would need a breakwater.

Paul Amos, president of the Columbia River Pilots, said Austin Point is farther from the shipping channel and would get less ship surge, waves which can be several feet.

“Mitigation is the biggest issue,’’ Jajou said. “Permitting can take forever.’’

The port will review public comments from last week’s meeting. A second open house, tentatively set for November, will be scheduled to share the site recommendation.

Holmberg said the process of applying and receiving grants, plus construction, could take several years.

It is expected there would be a daily launch fee similar to the $5 to $7 charged by other ports and local governments who provide boat ramps, he added.