Metro secures grant to build new boat launch at Farmington and River roads by fall 2016

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - By fall 2016, a new boat launch at Farmington Road and River Road will provide paddlers with a new entry point along the Tualatin River.The Tualatin River is defined by meandering waters, quiet wildlife and whispering woods. Flanked in spots by the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, marshes encompass vast stretches of land and are a glimpse into what the area looked like 50, 100, 500 years ago.

While the remoteness helps keep the land and water the way they are, it’s made it difficult for local paddlers to access certain spots of the river. In 1992, a Metro government goal was written up as part of the Regional Greenspaces Master Plan, which will eventually place boat launches every five miles along the river, according to an article on Metro's website. Earlier this month, Metro leaders learned they received a $287,500 grant from Oregon Parks and Recreation to begin enacting the first step in reaching this goal.

By 2016, a boat launch at Farmington Road and River Road will be completed, providing easy public access to a long stretch of the river.

“My involvement started in 2011 as the project manager looking at the feasibility of developing light watercraft access to the Tualatin River at Metro-owned properties,” said Metro principal regional planner Rod Wojtanik. “There are currently five Metro-owned properties along the Tualatin. The goal was to look at each of those to determine which had the greatest potential to develop for access.”

After consulting with organizations such as the Tualatin Riverkeepers and Clean Water Services, the determination was that the land at Farmington Road had the most potential, said Wojtanik. It requires the least amount of work and land alterations, and exists in a prime location — the launch will be put at a spot currently only reachable after five miles of paddling in either direction, from Rood Bridge in Hillsboro or Eagle’s Landing in unincorporated Washington County. What takes an average of four hours to complete will be reduced to two and gives paddlers a place to rest even if they wish to float on.

“I think that people will really be surprised at what the Tualatin has to offer. I’ve had an opportunity to float almost 20 miles of it, and you really forget where you are at times,” Wojtanik said. “It’s rare where you see a structure or a house or a barn when you’re down on the river. You really are away from it all, and you forget that you live in an urban environment.”

The land for this boat launch was purchased in 2000 with a $680,000 budget set for project completion, some funds coming from a voter-approved natural areas bond measure. The recent grant secures the remainder of this money, which will be available within the next two months. One grant proposal was denied during those 14 years, and the current plan addresses the previous concerns.

Currently, plans detail a gravel road that will lead to a 15- to 20-car parking lot with a small area for trailers and a bathroom. From the parking lot, paddlers will be able to carry their boats down a trail to the launch. Construction is expected to finish by fall 2016. Though the Farmington Road boat launch will bring to light the first step in the Tualatin River Water Trail, it is only a small part of the greater plan, which remains in motion.

“It’s a work in progress,” Wojtanik said. “I don’t think we’re done, this is just Metro’s first opportunity to build a launch.”

With the creation of this boat launch, and the prospect of more to come, paddlers will be able to cover serene stretches of the Tualatin River they might never have seen otherwise.

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