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New Guidelines for Green River Headworks Access

Posted: 11/02/2007
by Thomas O'Keefe

The Green River Headworks is one of the most popular beginner whitewater runs in the Puget Sound area serving paddlers from Tacoma, Seattle, and neighboring communities. The run starts at the City of Tacoma headworks where flows are diverted for municipal drinking water. With increased security requirements the City of Tacoma has constructed a new watershed entrance gate that limits access to the historic put-in.

In anticipation of this change, Friends of the Green worked in partnership with American Whitewater, local affiliate clubs, whitewater businesses, and the City of Tacoma to develop a plan to protect access for paddlers. Friends of the Green signed a Settlement Agreement with the Tacoma in 1995 where Tacoma agreed to construct and maintain a river access point for river recreationists, including recreational and commercial whitewater boaters (rafters, kayakers and canoeists), on Tacoma’s property immediately downstream of (and along the same side of the river as) Tacoma’s treatment buildings and Palmer U.S.G.S. Gauge.

While staff from Tacoma initially proposed modifying this agreement and providing a new access point further downstream, several individuals made a compelling case for the importance of this entire section of river. Tacoma listened carefully to this input and worked to develop an access proposal that would meet the city's needs for security while providing continued access for the boating community.

Tacoma developed a set of rules for access to the put-in that now requires passing through the security gate. Please follow these access guidelines carefully. We need to demonstrate compliance with the guidelines in order to maintain this access. If you have any questions please ask the gate guard and follow instructions. If you run into any problems please contact American Whitewater.

Access Rules for Headworks Put-in:

A. Recreational boaters will need to provide the Tacoma Water gate guard with the identification of each boater and proof of auto insurance for each vehicle that enters the enclosure [this is a requirement for all vehicles entering the watershed].

B. Each person using the river access will need to verify he/she will be traveling in a boat. Anyone requesting access without a boat, or who cannot verify that they will be traveling in someone else’s boat, will not be allowed into the closed area of the watershed.

C. The gate guard will issue a permit to each vehicle. The permit will need to be prominently displayed in the vehicle while the vehicle is within the watershed enclosure.

D. Boaters are to travel directly from the watershed gate to the recreational access [use the lower gravel road]. Boaters found elsewhere within the watershed enclosure will be escorted out of the watershed and not allowed back.

E. Boats are to be off-loaded from their respective vehicles in a timely manner. Vehicles are to be parked along the access road west of the portable toilet to be provided for the use of recreational boaters. [Additionally, the yellow gate to the river access spur road at the put-in will be left open to facilitate river access which should help rafters who wish to back their trailer down to the river.]

F. Boaters are to keep the area clean of debris.

G. The recreation access will be closed to boaters after sunset and until sunrise, except that boaters will be allowed to re-enter the closed watershed to recover their parked vehicles [the gate is manned 24/7].

H. The recreation access location and nearby features are shown on the figure titled “Tacoma Water Headworks Green River Recreational Access.”

I. Should it become necessary to revise any part of these rules, Tacoma Water will inform Friends of the Green River, and shall make such revisions using a good faith effort to work together with Friends of the Green River to provide a mutually agreeable outcome.
Thomas O'Keefe
3537 NE 87th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 425-417-9012


Associated Projects

Green River (WA)
AW works with partners to protect flows and the scenic landscape of the Green River Gorge.