Last evening, the first public forum to discuss public access at and around Punch Bowl Falls was held in Hood River. This 100 acres of land and 1.5 mile stretch of river is currently owned by Western Rivers Conservancy, but they are looking to transfer ownership to Hood River County as a County Park. The intent of last night’s meeting was to begin gathering community support and ideas for such a project. The park designation is important, ensuring continued river access at the confluence of the East and West Forks of the Hood River.
After a brief historical description of the area, an estimated 40-50 attendees split into smaller groups to discuss the following questions, amongst others:
- If Punch Bowl Falls (and surrounding property) becomes a County Park, what should it be like?
- How should it be managed?
- What should be improved or left alone?
- What makes the area unique?
- What amenities should be included?
A “less is more” and conservationist attitude seemed to be prevalent within my group, requesting a minimalist approach to a park creation. Other concerns discussed included over-development, camping, the allowance of dogs, and protection of fish habitat and spawning.
Community support is vital to this process, to demonstrate desire for continued river access to the County. A strong showing of support and a park plan in place will also help the grant application process, funding that is vital to make the park a reality (roughly $578,000 is still needed for the transfer from Western Rivers Conservancy to Hood River County to occur!).
To submit your thoughts and ideas, you can share by:
1) Attending the second public forum on February 10th
2) Taking the following survey –
As much information will be gathered until February 15th, when it will then be refined into a formal plan by an advisory committee. A grant proposal request for funding will be submitted after that.
For additional background information about Punch Bowl Falls and what’s going on, check out the following write-ups: