Park for pooches: Parcel looks promising to let dogs roam off-leash

Nonprofit, Port eye 5.5-acre plot near Grove Field Airport

Maple, a 3-year-old Siberian husky, waits to be freed from her leash at a Portland off-leash dog park on a recent sunny Saturday. Local dog lovers who like to let their pooches roam free are hoping to soon see a new, off-leash dog park in the Camas-Washougal area.

Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner John Spencer (left) and DOGPAW Operations Manager Mark Watson (right) discuss a potential partnership -- involving the port, DOGPAW, Clark County and the cities of Camas and Washougal -- for a new dog park next to the Camas-area Grove Field Airport.

Camas and Washougal residents hoping to take their dogs to a local off-leash park may soon have something to celebrate.

Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner John Spencer has proposed using a location north of Camas, on a 5.5-acre parcel next to Grove Field Airport, as the area’s only off-leash dog park.

“This is about as park-like as you’re going to get,” Mark Watson, operations manager of Dog Owners Group for Park Access in Washington (DOGPAW), said during a recent visit to the proposed site. “This is a no-brainer. It would involve bringing in an amenity. It’s not a busy road.”

Spencer made note of the sounds of chirping crickets, to emphasize the lack of roadway traffic.

There would be a chain link fence around the dog park.

“The planes make more noise than the dogs would,” Watson said.

Spencer has proposed a five-way partnership, involving Clark County, the Port of Camas-Washougal, the cities of Camas and Washougal and DOGPAW, with the government entities splitting the construction costs equally, at a cost of $60,000 each, and DOGPAW taking over operations and maintenance duties.

“Most of the cost is in building a 20-spot parking lot, per county requirements,” Spencer said. “I’ve also been talking with the Clark County Parks Foundation about seeking grant opportunities.”

Spencer estimates it would take 15 minutes from Washougal City Hall and about eight minutes from Camas City Hall to drive to the proposed dog park area.

Spencer, a pilot, said he drew the off-leash area to keep it out of the main flight path of the runway at Grove Field and out of the area where the Port might extend the runway someday.

The area’s former off-leash dog park, also maintained by DOGPAW, the Donald and Angeline Stevenson Off Leash Area, in Washougal, closed in late April. The field, west of Bi-Mart, at 3003 Addy St., had been used as a park for licensed dogs since November of 2009. It was temporarily closed from Oct. 31, 2016 to Jan. 2, 2017, and then closed for good in April. The landowner, East Village Investors, is now marketing the 16-acre site, including the former 6-acre dog park, as a site for higher density housing and retail.