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Hagg Lake campground scheduled for summer 2015

Other renovations include new recreation area, playground, names

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: TACEY SMITH - This old, deteriorating road and parking lot used to be a day-use area at Hagg Lake where visitors came to picnic, but the area eventually closed down due to declining use. It will soon host the parks new campground.By next summer, Scoggins Valley Park at Henry Hagg Lake plans to open its first official campground, meaning hikers, fishers, RVers, bicyclists and boaters can finally rejoice—and hang up the phone.

“We’re getting about 100 calls a week at the Ranger’s Office from people saying ‘Can we camp yet?’ ‘Is it done now?’ ‘Can I make a reservation?’” said Washington County Parks Superintendent Todd Winter. “And the Washington County Visitor’s Association is getting calls too. Please be patient. It’s a long process but we’re about halfway through.”

Visitors have been asking for a campground at Hagg Lake for at least two decades, Winter said, and park planners have been considering one for even longer — ever since the reservoir was created by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) in 1974.

As campground plans gained steam in the past decade, planners hesitated to follow through because of potential flooding from a proposed dam raise.

“Why build a new restroom or a campground by the shore if it’s going to be flooded?” said Winter.

The dam raise was meant to supply more drinking and irrigation water for the county’s growing population, but the recent construction of a pipeline to Sherwood from the Willamette River has provided a fresh supply of water to the county. Many cities, including Hillsboro and Beaverton, have decided to draw water from the pipeline, reducing the need for a dam raise.

“A 12-foot raise won’t cause nearly as much flooding, so now we can build new recreation areas,” said Winter. by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: TACEY SMITH - A year from now, Washington County Parks staff aim to have camping sites and facilities nestling in the woods around this old day-use area in the southeast corner of Hagg Lake, shortly past the fee booth.

That means Scoggins Park planners are now being inundated with something else: ideas for improving the park.

“We have a lake and great trails, which no one else has, but by building a play structure or a nice lawn we hope to give the rest of the local family something to do besides just watch dad cast a line in the lake,” Winter said.

According to a recent study, 45 percent of Hagg Lake’s 803,000 visitors last year came from outside Washington County.

“It’s pretty good to have all those people coming in doing secondary spending at gas stations and shopping centers,” said Winter.

Of the remaining 442,000 visitors, only 20 percent were from western Washington County—a percentage Winter hopes to increase with the park’s renovations.

Here’s what’s in the works:

n The county’s parks department plans to build a 75- to 100-site campground near the park offices at Hagg Lake’s southeast corner, about a half-mile north of the entry fee booth.

Each site will be multi-use, able to accommodate a tent, a car or an RV with electrical and water hook-up for an estimated price of $20 a night. WiFi will also be available, but since it is a Family Campground, there will be a quiet time in place from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Tent campers need not fear the noise of RV engines — there will be 30 feet of space separating each site.

The project will have to pass a National Environmental Protection Act review, including public comment this fall. It also needs approval from the Washington County Board of Commissioners, and $1.5 million to 2.5 million in state grant money. There’s a lot to do, but the Washington County Parks staff aims to open the campground by the summer of 2015.

“I think that’s an attainable goal,” said Winter.

n Boat Ramp C has long been an uneven, unkempt, gopher hole-ridden field leading to the shore. “If you took your mom you would have to hold her hand as you walked her across the lawn to the beach,” Winter said. “You didn’t want your kids there because they’d break an ankle.”

But park planners recently smoothed out the surface and seeded it with new grass, making the beach handicap-accessible and suitable for activities such as picnics or football.

“We plan on putting a playground in there soon, too,” added Winter.

n Some parts of the park will get new names.

Park staff got permission from the Tualatin band of the Kalapuya tribes to name the new area at Boat Ramp C “Kalapuya Recreation Area” after the Native Americans who once lived there.

In August, representatives from the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde will hold a naming ceremony on the lawn, where they will play drums and cook salmon according to Kalapuya tradition.

“We wanted to honor them, and they have preliminarily given us their blessing,” said Winter.

In addition, the 38 previously unnamed parking areas around Hagg Lake’s 10-mile perimeter road were recently named after wildlife and historical landmarks such as Fender’s Blue (an endangered butterfly species) and Forest Dale (a high school that stood in the valley before it was flooded). These names will make it easier for visitors and rescue workers to navigate the park. The signs bearing the names were built by Gaston High school students.

n The days when the fishing season at Hagg lake ended in November are over. BOR has given permission for visitors to fish in all seasons.

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