Fort Worden Launch Ramp Update, September 28, 2016

The closure of the boat ramp at Fort Worden was discussed at the annual meeting of TSCA-PS last Saturday. Some of our members who are familiar with the Park Administration agreed to find out who might be able to tell us what plans for reopening the ramp are. Using their information I made some phone calls, and this is what I found out...

Per September 28, 2016 phone conversation with Brian Hageman, manager, Fort Worden, Fort Flagler, and four other parks on the Olympic Peninsula.

Historical Fort Worden boat ramp operation: In the past the ramp has required sand removal, sometimes up to twice a week to keep it in a safe usable condition.

Current issues with the ramp and its operation: After the huge windstorm in August 2015, massive amounts of sand were piled up over the ramp surface. When park personnel reviewed permits needed for sand removal, it was found that the permits had expired. New permits were applied for from the Army Corps of Engineers, working with Washington State Fish and Wildlife and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, Salmon Coalition.

Basically the problem with removing the sand from the ramp surface is the presence of Sand Lance eggs in that sand. Sand Lance is an important forage fish for salmon and is protected.

Permits: Because of the Sand Lance eggs the sand can only be removed during an egg free period, in this case, July 15th to September 15th. The Salmon Coalition and the Washington State Fish and Wildlife service have approved a sand removal permit within this time window. The final permitting agency is the Army Corps of Engineers. They have not issued the permit at this time.

Next steps: If the final permit is not forthcoming from the Corps of Engineers, State Park administration has a back-up plan, which would entail the building of an elevated boat launch ramp. This would require a very large capital outlay. Since the Washington State Park system would not be able to fund such a project, there has been an application made for federal funding. This alternative plan is to be used only if no sand removal permits are issued.

So, the bottom line is as follows: The Army Corps will probably issue the needed permits prior to next July 15th. Mr. Hageman feels that there is no need for any public action to protect the ramp at this time, however, he will call upon us should a need arise.


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