An easement from a local diking district may complicate the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s plan to build a new boat launch along the Klaskanine River.
The Clatsop County Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit on Tuesday to build what the department calls “a primitive boat ramp” near the intersection of Youngs River and Uno Swensk roads. But Fish and Wildlife must come to an agreement with Diking Improvement Co. No. 9, which has jurisdiction over the land.
The property, which spans about 150 feet of the Klaskanine River, would include a concrete boat ramp, a gravel parking lot that could fit about 10 to 15 vehicles with trailers, and riprap capped with riverbed materials to emulate a natural bank.
One of the goals of the project is to create an official, safer boat ramp for an area that is already a popular place to fish, said Mike Sinnott, an assistant district fish biologist with Fish and Wildlife.
There is only one gravel boat ramp on private property that people use to launch their boats. At peak times of the year, the county road and other side streets are packed with cars.
“Our priority is to promote larger, safer access to a fishery that already exists,” Sinnott said.
But during the public comment phase in March, a board member of the diking company alerted the county and Fish and Wildlife that the proposed boat ramp was in the diking company’s easement. No construction can move forward without a majority vote of the board to approve it, said Ted Warila, the superintendent of the diking company.
Though the dike has been filled in for decades, the board still has concerns.
“There’s definitely some opposition. Our dike wasn’t built for boat traffic going up and down so fast,” Warila said. “It’s not a very big river ... and if you get boats flying up and down, our banks are going to start eroding bad.”
Other people in the neighborhood share the diking company’s concern with erosion, and fear the boat ramp would bring an increase in boat traffic the river cannot handle.
Sinnott said the department hopes to address concerns of erosion by establishing speed limits. As a condition of approval, the state will also work with the county to post “no parking” signs along the road to alleviate neighborhood crowding, though Sinnott hopes having a formal parking lot will help solve the issue.
Because the dike does not exist, Fish and Wildlife, like the county, was unaware of the easement when the application was submitted, Sinnott said. The department has sent a request letter to start the process of negotiating with the diking company.
“Whatever our legal requirement is ... it will be met, even if it stops this project,” Sinnott said.
If the project is approved, construction would start next summer.