Punchbowl Falls Funding Secured (OR)
By: Thomas O'Keefe
A vision more than a century in the making is about to become reality with last week’s decision by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission to approve the grant for the acquisition of Punchbowl Falls and the property at the confluence of the West and East Forks of the Hood River.
Punchbowl Falls was identified as top acquisition priority for American Whitewater in the Western United States. While the site has been used by the boating community and the general public for decades, it is in fact private land. A few years ago Western Rivers Conservancy purchased 102 acres surrounding the falls, including 2 miles of river, to protect it from development. Based in Portland, OR, Western Rivers Conservancy protects outstanding river ecosystems in the western United States by acquiring private lands and transferring them to long-term stewards for permanent conservation and management.
Western Rivers Conservancy was holding the land with the goal of making it a public Park, and while they did a substantial amount of fundraising for the effort, additional grant funding was needed to achieve the goal. We wish to express our appreciation to the Hood River Residents Committee who convened a public process to develop a future vision for the property. Whitewater paddlers joined the workshops, filled out the survey, and participated in site tours. The result was the Punchbowl Falls County Park Management Plan which is instrumental in building strong county support for the project and the ultimately successful grant request.
While many local members took part in the effort and dozens of individuals donated funds, we wish to thank Zach Collier, Matt Moreland, John Hart, and Ralph Bloemers who all provided leadership and assistance as representatives of the whitewater paddling community on this project. We also wish to extend a special thanks to member Ron Reynier who served on the Advisory Committee for the planning process.
The property should be transferred to the county by the end of the year. We'll be back in touch with updates on park development including requests for trail building volunteers.