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Dumping ground could be county park

Officials work to transform popular fishing spot Dibblee Point


Columbia County hopes to craft a lasting management plan that would turn a popular, but neglected, fishing spot near Rainier into a fully functioning park.

County representatives, State Sen. Betsy Johnson and volunteer group The Friends of Dibblee Point set the ball rolling in June when they met with Department of State Lands (DSL) officials to see if the department was even interested in the possibility of turning Dibblee Point to more official recreational use.by: KATIE WILSON - A skeleton of a fish sits at Dibblee Point, a popular fishing spot near Rainier officials hope will one day become a legitimate county park.

Facing no opposition, the group followed up with a second meeting Sept. 27.

While the future of Dibblee Point is still not entirely clear, it is starting to take shape.

The county hopes to enter into a memorandum of understanding with DSL to develop the management plan.

“We want to turn that into something other than a weathered old road and a garbage dump,” said Columbia County Commissioner Henry Heimuller, referring to the land’s typical use as a dumping ground for dredge spoils.

“Of course, we’ll have to do all this with a whole lot of elbow grease, a whole lot of faith and a whole lot of state and federal grants,” he said.

Nevertheless, Heimuller believes the endeavor is worthwhile. The wooded waterfront property is a popular spot for local fishermen who park their trucks and vans on the beach that stretches in a long sweep beyond the trees.

One of the two licenses DSL leases for sand and gravel operations at Dibblee Point is currently being used. DSL hopes to continue to generate revenue from the property through these leases, but DSL Director Louise Solliday said the department manages land such as Dibblee Point to make sure they’re available to use by a variety of people and for a variety of purposes.

“Putting a county park is consistent with that,” she said.

The recreational portion of Dibblee Point is virtually unmaintained, marked with minimal signage and accessible only by dirt and gravel roads. DSL allows the public access to the site, but Solliday said the department does not have the resources to do much more.

Over the years, it’s the volunteers, The Friends of Dibblee Point, who have primarily organized clean-up days and tried to keep the area open for fishing and other recreational activities.

“They’re tired,” Heimuller said. “Lots of them are getting older and the population that uses the area continues to grow.”

Heimuller said the “biggest travesty of all” would be DSL deciding the efforts are too much and closing access to the roads.

Currently, this is not the future of Dibblee Point. County and state officials have sat down together and drawn up preliminary park designs and assigned lists of tasks to different people and agencies. DSL has taken the lead in drafting a memorandum of understanding and will send it to the county board of commissioners for comment. Heimuller said the group doesn’t have another meeting scheduled yet but will likely meet early next year.