Portland boat ramp on Columbia closed during salmon season

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

Published:

 

Popular M. James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp on the Columbia River in Portland will be closed during spring chinook season due to repairs not expected to be finished until June.

The closure is likely to shift angler traffic across the river to Vancouver's Marine Park during the peak of the spring salmon fishery in late March and early April.

"We were at the Sportsmen's Show and are trying to get the word out so that fishermen won't go there and then have to change plans, '' said Jim Middaugh, a spokesman for Metro, the Oregon intergovernmental agency.

Metro got a grant from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon State Marine Board to make improvements to the ramp at Northeast 43rd Avenue and Marine Drive.

Work started on Jan. 14 to improve the parking, restrooms and on-site stormwater treatment.

Lydia Neill, a construction supervisor for Metro's Parks and Environmental Services section, said the goal is to reopen Gleason by June 1, but will allow access sooner if possible.

Gleason ramp has four launching-loading lanes and parking for approximately 135 vehicles with trailers and 120 single vehicles, she said..

Jimmy Watts of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, who regularly flies over Gleason while conducting aerial counts of Columbia River anglers, said the ramp gets plenty of use in March and April.

Creel samplers often check a 100 fishing boats a day at Gleason while on site only a portion of the daylight hours, he said.

Gleason rarely fills completely, Watts said.

"You can still get a (parking) spot at 8 or 9 a.m.,'' he said.

Gleason can handle a lot of loading and launching traffic relatively quickly, he added.

Watts said the closure of Gleason might cause some shift of effort to Marine Park, but will also probably result in fewer angler trips.

Brian Potter of the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation said Marine Park has had improvements over the years to its paving and traffic flow and can handle additional use.

Marine Park gets substantial use during spring salmon season, but does not fill completely, he added.

This is not expected to be a bonanza spring chinook season.

Sportsmen in the lower Columbia have an allocation of only 5,000 upper Columbia spring chinook in 2013. Washington and Oregon biologists project the allocation will be reached about April 5.

A year ago, the lower Columbia season was open through April 22.