The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

County, Port 1 talk about funding, future of County Line Park

 

February 10, 2022

Rick Nelson

Officials from Port 1 and Wahkiakum County want to discuss funding commitments for improvements at County Line Park.

Local officials are asking each other how committed they are to maintaining County Line Park.

The park, located on the Columbia at the meeting of Wahkiakum and Cowlitz counties, lies on land owned by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and situated inside Wahkiakum County. DNR once leased the park to Cowlitz County, but that county discontinued the lease. DNR now leases the land to Wahkiakum County, which has contracted first to Port District 2 and now to Port District 1 to operate it as an RV and dry camping facility.

Port 1 has planned to upgrade the park water system, using county park and recreation funds. Port 1 Maintenance Supervisor Todd Souvenir visited the county board of commissioners on Tuesday and asked if that board would commit to funding the project even if the cost exceeded the estimated amount included in the county budget.

That question started a conversation about how committed the two agencies were to operating the park.

"On the commitment," said county Commissioner Dan Cothren, "I'd like to know where the commitment is from the port. Where the commitment is that we don't get the park back from the port.

"Parks are nice, but the people who us it (County Line Park) aren't from Wahkiakum County. We lease it from the DNR but get no funds from them.

"Maybe they're the ones who should be running the darn thing."

Souvenir agreed that running the park is a financial challenge requiring a lot of time and generating limited revenue.

Rick Nelson

County Line Park's restrooms serve as an unofficial rest area for travelers on SR 4.

In Port 2's last year of operation, 2019, park use generated approximately $32,000 in revenue, Sourvenir said. In Port 1's first year of operation, 2020, revenue totaled about $21,000 as covid-19 and poor fishing reduced usage.

"The revenue is not there," Cothren said. "When I look at the benefit [to Wahkiakum County], the only benefit I can see is the bathroom [available for travelers needing a rest stop].

"Maybe it's time to look at this thing."

The officials discussed possible funding sources, including competitive recreation grants or possible state sources.

Cothren commented that outdoor enthusiasts have to purchase a state Discovery Pass to access DNR land, and none of that money goes to county facilities.

Souvenir said he would discuss commitment with the port commission and return for further discussion with the county board. County commissioners said they would lobby legislators for park funding.

 

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