A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Luckiamute paddlers face longer wait

Written October 9th, 2013 by
The launch point is planned for this spot.

The launch point is planned for this spot.

If you’ve been waiting to use the long-planned paddlers’ access on the Luckiamute River, you’re in for a disappointment. It was supposed to be built this year, but it hasn’t happened, even though the signs are in place on Buena Vista Road and the parking lot and restroom have long been finished. The access point to the river itself is not there, and getting a canoe down to the water and back up again is just about impossible because of all the vegetation that runs wild on the bank.

The access has been planned for years as part of the new state Luckiamute Natural Area, which covers several hundred acres in two pieces straddling the Benton-Polk county line. That stretch of the Luckiamute, from Buena Vista Road to the Willamette River, is nice for a leisurely paddle, if only you can get there.

Last spring I was told the access would be completed during low water late this summer. But when I asked a few days ago, park manager Bryan Nielsen replied: “Unfortunately we ran into more delays that were out of my control, and the work window with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed for the season. We will have to wait until next fall to install the launch. It’s disappointing to all of us at the park.”

If the access is built next fall, it likely will be spring 2015 before it gets much use.

I understand that work in the stream should not be done if it harms threatened fish runs, but I doubt whether clearing some brush, building some steps and maybe a short slide would actually do any harm. Those ODFW regulations could stand to be revised. (hh)

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