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Officials consider future of recreation area

First step in a long process for Dibblee Point master plan


by: KATIE WILSON - Fishermen cast off at Dibblee Point near Rainier. The 110-acre site is owned by the Oregon Department of State Lands and has never officially been designated as a recreation area although people flock there to fish and picnic.Changes could be coming to Dibblee Point. But exactly what those changes might look like is anyone's guess.

Located west of Rainier on the Columbia River, Dibblee Point's sandy beach and wooded acres have made it a popular, albeit unofficial, recreational area for years. A large portion of the land is also leased out to industrial companies BCX and JE McAmis.

However, with no real plan for how the entire site is used or maintained, Dibblee Point has been the source "of an enormous amount of frustration for a very long time," said State Senator Betsy Johnson.

At different times, some or all of the site's uses have come into conflict with each other.

"We're not like state parks," said Julie Curtis, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of State Lands which owns the 110-acre site. There are no DSL employees on the ground to police improper behavior at or improper use of the site, she said. Signage is minimal and a long, deeply rutted dirt road serves as public access to the beach. Safety is always a concern.

Earlier this month, Johnson met informally with county officials, DSL representatives and members of a small and weary volunteer group, the Friends of Dibblee Point, who have been picking up other people's trash and righting pushed over porta potties at Dibblee Point for years. The purpose of the meeting was to see if DSL was open to discussing the future of Dibblee Point.

The answer was a resounding "yes," Johnson said.

Curtis said the group plans to meet again in early or mid-July to go over assignments such as validating land ownership, reviewing the history how the land and nearby island have been used and other matters. One of the preferred actions would be to develop a master plan for Dibblee Point and determine what recreational activities would take place and where.

But this would be expensive and, currently, "I don't know who's going to pay for it," Curtis said.

Despite local rumors about the state introducing day-use fees and access restrictions at Dibblee Point, "no conclusions have been reached at all," Johnson emphasized. "This was the most preliminary of meetings to see if DSL was interested (in having a conversation)."

"Obviously this is the first step in a long process."