Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Sept. 22, 2021

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Speed limit on Horseshoe Lake reduced

Woodland council cuts it to 5 mph after controversial veto

By , Columbian Health Reporter

The Woodland City Council once again amended the rules and regulations for Horseshoe Lake on Tuesday night.

In a 4-3 vote, the council declared the entire lake a no-wake area and restricted the speed limit to 5 mph. Council members Tom Mattison, Marilee McCall and J.J. Burke voted against the changes to an ordinance passed last month.

The decision followed weeks of passionate pleas from community members, debate between council members and numerous votes.

At the council’s Aug. 16 meeting, the council voted 5-1 to reduce the speed limit for motorboats on the lake from 50 mph to 35 mph. Mayor Chuck Blum then vetoed the council’s decision.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the city council voted 7-0 to override the mayor’s veto. But then the council decided to reconsider its ordinance and, ultimately, passed the amendment.

A few council members expressed frustration with Blum’s decision to veto rules the council established.

McCall said the council had taken a step in the right direction with the 35 mph speed limit. The veto, however, pushed the council back a few steps, she said. McCall called the veto “a monumental waste of our time and of citizens’ time.”

Councilman Benjamin Fredricks agreed.

“This has done a lot of harm,” he said. “That’s what this veto has done.”

Blum defended his decision, arguing the reduced speed limit didn’t meet the four objectives for establishing new rules: address concerns with water quality, create an enforceable law, provide maximum safety and allow for maximum use of the lake.

“You absolutely did nothing with that speed limit,” Blum said.

Once the veto was unanimously overruled, Blum expressed his disappointment. But minutes later, the council decided to reconsider its ordinance.

Councilman Al Swindell proposed amending the ordinance to reduce the speed limit for motorboats to 5 mph and make the entire lake a no-wake area. The city’s Horseshoe Lake Management Committee and Woodland Park Board both recommended those restrictions in the past.

“We have heard hours and hours of testimony on this issue over many months,” said Swindell, adding that he would have voted differently in the past. “Right now, this is the right thing to do. Let’s pass this and move on.”

McCall visited the lake recently and saw for herself the impact of the invasive water plant, milfoil. Because of the poor water quality, McCall said she would rather see the lake closed to boats with propellers for one year until the water quality improves. That, McCall said, is why she voted against the amendment.

Fredricks said the new rules would benefit a large majority of lake users. The small minority who cannot use their boats on the lake have other options, such as nearby rivers and Merwin and Yale lakes, he said.

“I think this is a common-sense solution,” Fredricks said.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546 or

Columbian Health Reporter