State grant will help fund Camas boat launch project

Construction will get underway in October

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Improvements to the Heritage Park Boat Launch will soon get underway. Thanks to a $419,000 state grant, the boat launch will be widened, a second loading dock will be added, and parking will be expanded.

On warm summer days, it’s not uncommon to find Heritage Park packed to the gills with vehicles moving boats in and out of the launch on Lacamas Lake, one after another.

Boat trailer parking often extends onto a grassy knoll adjacent to the paved parking lot, or onto street shoulders.

In an effort to improve this area’s safety and maneuverability, the city will soon begin a project that is being financially supported through a recently awarded state grant.

In July, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the City of Camas had received a $418,068 Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board grant for the Heritage Park boat launch project.

The project will improve the boating facilities on the 315-acre Lacamas Lake by widening the launch from 24 feet to 32 feet, creating two, 16-foot launch lanes.

It also will include adding a second loading dock, expanding parking to include an additional 22 single vehicle slots and 24 vehicle and trailer slots, paving walkways, and installing signs and utilities.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $559,068. The remaining $141,000 needed to fully fund the endeavor will come from the city’s real estate excise taxes.

According to grant documents, Lacamas Lake provides year-round fishing and motor boating, and is the only lake in Vancouver and Camas urban areas that provides a full range of recreation opportunities for motorized boaters.

In 2011, Clark County had the fifth highest number of registered boats in Washington, but was number 28 in the number of launches.

Mayor Scott Higgins said during last night’s City Council meeting that work is expected to begin in conjunction with the annual fall draw down of the lake, conducted by Georgia Pacific for dam maintenance. Boat launch construction will begin in October, and should be completed by fall 2014.

The funding awarded for the Camas boat launch was among $3,691,908 doled out for Clark County projects by the Recreation Conservation Funding Board through a competitive application process.

“These grants go a long way in helping cities, towns and others develop their communities to be great places to live and work,” said Harriet Spanel, acting chair of the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. “While many of these grants are small, they are absolutely necessary to maintain what we have and make sure Washington continues to provide fantastic outdoors places for our people today and for our children.”

The site of the future Heritage Park boat launch improvements is adjacent to construction work currently underway to build the $2.1 million Lacamas Lake Lodge and Conference Center, which is expected to be completed in early 2014.