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Bush Point boat launch gets closer to reality

South Whidbey boaters and fishers are one step closer to having a home at Bush Point.

Their wish of having a new boat ramp and dock in the Freeland-area community is about to be granted by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. If all goes according to plan, boaters may be launching from the ramp by next summer and fishermen may be casting from the dock.

The proposed plan calls for a 16- to 20-foot-wide boat ramp, long enough to launch at a minus 3-foot tide. Also planned is the construction of a 10-foot-wide, 150- to 200-foot-long floating dock. The facilities will be similar to those at Freeland Park.

"If the state has all the federal permits in line, the whole project could go quickly," Port of South Whidbey planner Tom Roehl said Thursday.

In 1999, the port entered into an ownership/management partnership with DFW to operate and manage the old Bush Point resort property. Management, maintenance and operation of the new facility will be handled by the port. DFW will pay to build the $750,000 launch and dock on the 4-acre site. The project will also include parking spaces and a turn-around. Development of the Bush Point facility is part of the port's comprehensive plan.

Under the Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance under the State Environmental Policy Act, Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife will be required to provide additional spawning habitat for surf smelt to offset any habitat loss resulting from construction of the new boat launch. The proposed mitigation site is at Penn Cove.

The project sat in limbo for two years from 1999 to 2001 before the state began moving forward on assessing the biology of the location.

The public has until Dec. 19 to comment on the project.

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