Bush Point launch nearer to reality

Commissioners for the Port of South Whidbey can see a light at the end of the long bureaucratic tunnel toward completion of the boat launch at Bush Point.

That's good news for South Whidbey boaters and anglers.

According to the port's planning officer, Tom Roehl, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is expected to seek Island County permits soon, a big step forward on the project.

But South Whidbey boaters won't actually be launching on a new ramp for another two years.

"We are estimating that construction will be completed in January or February 2005," Roehl said.

Several more challenges need to be met before construction can actually begin including improvement of the mitigation site and a go-ahead from the Army Corps of Engineers

Approval of the boat launch by DFW was dependent on finding and improving a mitigation site for near shore habitat.

Under the Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance under the State Environmental Policy Act, Washington's department of Wildlife is required to provide additional spawning habitat for surf smelt to offset any habitat loss resulting from construction of the new boat launch.

The chosen site -- Penn Cove -- is where several hundred feet of bulkhead must be removed to increase near shore habitat for surf smelt and sand lance.

Cost of the project is estimated at $41,000 and will be paid for by the state eventually, but the port is expected to guarantee the money to keep the project moving.

"DFW doesn't have funds in this budget, but as soon as the port works out the details of how it will be reimbursed by DFW for the mitigation site work, we'll go ahead."

"They don't have the money in this budget and rather than wait for the next biennium the port will guarantee the $41,000 needed for the mitigation project," Roehl said.

The boat launch and floating pier are estimated to cost about $750,000.

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 completed project will be similar to the facilities at Freeland Park. The plan calls for a 16 to 20 foot wide boat ramp, long enough to launch. The project will also include additional parking spaces and a turn-around.

Cost of the project is estimated at $750,000 and will be paid for by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and

In 1999, the port entered into an ownership/management partnership with DFW to operate and manage the old Bush Point resort property per interlocal agreement. Management, maintenance and operation of the new facility will be handled by the port.

Development of the Bush Point facility is part of the port's comprehensive plan.

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