Baker City, OR – Beginning September 24, the Hells Canyon Creek Boat Launch (HCCL) will be under construction with portions completed around September 27, 2013. The boat dock, raft slide, and lower parking lot will be closed during this time. However, the concrete boat ramp, upper parking lot, and Visitor Center will remain open. The HCCL and Visitor Center is located in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA) at the end of Forest Road 3810, about one mile below the Hells Canyon Dam.
In March 2012, a rain-on-snow flood event in Hells Canyon Creek damaged the parking area and boat dock at HCCL. The flood deposited a tremendous amount of rock and gravel on the boat dock burying the guide rail mechanism and a portion of the dock frame making it unusable for boaters. Since this time, the HCNRA staff have been addressing emergency repair work and working on an Environmental Analysis (EA) to assess how to stabilize the slope and restore the parking area, pathway, and picnic shelter north of Hells Canyon Creek; restore Hells Canyon Creek to its original channel and strengthen the north stream bank; and restore the function of the boat dock by removing the deposited rock and gravel. Kris Stein, Hells Canyon District Ranger signed the Decision Notice September 3rd with construction to occur in two Phases.
“We received some funding from Wallowa County that has been extremely essential to us being able to begin implementing Phase 1 of the construction project starting September 24,” emphasized District Ranger Kris Stein. “In addition, our partnership with Idaho Power has been and continues to be instrumental in the operation of the Hells Canyon Creek Visitor Center and boat launch” added Kris.
The Hells Canyon Creek Visitor Center and Boat Launch (HCCL) is a key access point to the Wild and Scenic Snake River and Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and very important to visitors to Hells Canyon. Phase 1 construction activities for this important facility will include:
· Removing the existing boat dock and steel framing,
· Repairing the stairs that descend from the parking area to the dock,
· Removing rocks and debris that were deposited under the dock, and
· Continue to work with local partners to be able to install a temporary modular dock to accommodate use until a more permanent dock is in place.
Phase 2 construction activities, which will begin when funding is secured include:
· Designing and installing a permanent dock system,
· Extending the parking area to its previous dimension,
· Replacing a picnic shelter that was destroyed in the flood, and
· Placing boulders along the stream channel to stabilize and re-establish the channel, and to direct the flow away from the dock area.
The electric lift that had been used at one time to assist mobility impaired visitors to travel from the parking area down to the launch location is irreparable and will be removed. It has not been functional for many years. The Forest Service will be aggressively pursuing funding opportunities to complete portions of Phase 1 and all of Phase 2 construction activities.
If you have questions about the project, please feel free to contact Mike Ball, River Manager at 509-758-0616 or Donna Mattson, Recreation Manager at 541-426-5536.