Punchbowl Falls County Park

Board of Commissioners Hear Punchbowl Park Plan
March 19 at 5 pm

The Board of Commissioners will be meeting on Thursday night to consider the Park Advisory Committee’s concept plan for Punchbowl Falls as a County Park.

Here is the Punchbowl Falls Concept Plan

It is very important that the community attend this meeting to show their support for the project. Those of you who formerly used Copper Dam Road to access the Hood River know only too well that public river access through private property is a very precarious thing. Public ownership of Punchbbowl Falls as a County Park is the best way to preserve access in perpetuity. If you value the Punchbowl Falls property as a community asset, please come and let the commissioners know that they should protect and preserve it for future generations.

If you can’t make the meeting, send the Commissioners an email.

Final Public Forum on Punchbowl Falls Park Thursday March 12 at 6 pm

Over the last month, the Park Advisory Committee has been hard at work turning the vast quantity of public input we have had on this project into a concept park plan. We will be presenting a draft plan for public review at a meeting next Thursday, March 12 at 6 pm in the Board of Commissioners meeting room, 601 State Street. We know that many of you are passionate about this property. We hope that you come and see the proposed plan and offer your comments and suggestions. After hearing from you, we will further refine the plan before presenting it to the Board of Commissioners on March 16.

We’ve learned a lot!

Thanks to all of you who have attended public meetings, gone on site visits, taken part in stakeholder interviews or filled out our online survey. We had 565 people take our survey (see the results here). About 50 people joined us on one of the 7 different site visits we conducted. Both of our previous public meetings were very well attended (see Notes from the January 13 meeting and February 10 meeting).

From all that community outreach, a few consistent themes have emerged. People value the unique natural and ecological features of the property and its spectacular beauty. They value the rare and precious river access it provides for swimmers, tribal and sport anglers, kayakers and rafters. They overwhelmingly support converting the property to a County Park and placing it in public ownership in perpetuity. But because the public is so enamored of the property, they are very protective of it. They want to make sure that park development is done with a very light hand and respects the wild natural character of the site. The concept park plan was shaped to reflect the public’s values and concerns. 

Write a letter

This is a once in a generation opportunity to save a magical spot for public use. Community support is what will make it a reality. Tell your friends about the project. Write a letter to the editor of the Hood River News  and/or the Board of Commissioners. Can be short and sweet but share the story of why you love the property and why it should be a public park.

Need more info?

Should Punch Bowl Falls be Hood River’s next County Park?

A big thank you to everyone who attended the January 13 public forum. We had a great crowd who provided thougtful insights on the property and its potential as a public park. We broke into small groups of 8-10 people and worked through a series of questions about current and future use of the property.

Here are the detailed notes from each group: Summary 1.13.15

A few themes got repeated with nearly every group:

  • Public access to the Hood River for boating, fishing and swimming is rare, important and should be preserved.
  • People love the wild, rugged beauty of the site and want to see as light a human footprint as possible. Most favored minimal park facilities and improvements.
  • Public access from Iowa Drive is complicated and could lead to conflicts with neighbors. Engaging residents and taking their concerns into consideration is very important.

Punch Bowl Falls County Park Visioning Project kicks off with Public Forum January 13

Protecting Punch Bowl Falls is a century-old idea that’s time has come. As early as 1910, Hood River residents were advocating that this iconic site should be made into a public park to forever preserve it for the enjoyment and use of future generations. Hood River County, in cooperation with Western Rivers Conservancy, has begun a process to do just that.

Starting in 2006, Western Rivers Conservancy began purchasing parcels from Longview Fiber and PacifiCorp eventually assembling over 100 contiguous acres along one of the most magnificent stretches of the Hood River extending 1.5 miles north from Punch Bowl Falls and including the confluence of the East and West forks of the Hood River. Western Rivers Conservancy purchased the property to conserve critical salmon habitat and provide permanent public recreational access with the idea that the property would eventually be conveyed to Hood River County as a public park. The Punch Bowl Falls site has been a favorite swimming hole and fishing spot for generations of Hood River residents as well as seeing more recent use by rafters, kayakers and outdoor education programs.

While locals have a long history of treating the area as if it were a public park, it is, in fact private property. If Hood River County is unable to acquire the property, Western Rivers Conservancy may be forced to sell it on the private market. A private sale would come with a conservation easement to protect the habitat values of the Hood River corridor but it is likely that public access to the site would be eliminated by future owners.

Click here for: Site Plan or Topographic Map or Aerial Map of the property

The first step towards creating a public park at Punch Bowl Falls is a community visioning process. HRVRC is helping to coordinate the public outreach effort. What kind of recreation opportunities should exist there? What improvements should be made and what should be left alone? How should we protect wildlife habitat? How will the park be operated and maintained?

The County needs to know what you think! Here are a few ways you can share your ideas:

  1. Take this short online survey
  2. Attend the upcoming community visioning sessions Tuesday January 13 and Tuesday February 10, 6-7:30 pm at the County Administration Building, 601 State Street, Hood River.
  3. Volunteer to serve on our Park Advisory Committee

This public process will lead to the creation of a development and management plan by April in order to submit proposals for the 2015 grant cycle. If you have questions or comments about the project or would like to join the Advisory Committee, contact Heather Staten, heather@hrvrc.org or (541) 490-5225

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