article photo 1

Green River Headworks Access Temporarily Unavailable (WA)

Posted: 02/23/2011
by Thomas O'Keefe

This past weekend a group of boaters intending to run the Green River Headworks run was turned away at the City of Tacoma gate that provides access to the put-in. The group was told that there was "too much debris in the river" but no additional information was provided on why the access was closed or who had made the decision to do so.

The access to this put-in was secured through a settlement agreement between City of Tacoma and Friends of the Green signed in 1995 that requires continued access at the historic put-in immediately downstream of the Palmer USGS gauge. In 2007 a new security gate was installed restricting access to the put-in and Friends of the Green, working with American Whitewater and local boating clubs, negotiated a set of guidelines for how access to the site would be managed. The put-in is also used by the Army Corps of Engineers as a site to deposit woody debris that is collected in the reservoir upstream and then deposited at the put-in for transport downstream by high flow events as required for maintenance of fish habitat under the Endangered Species Act.

On Friday, February 11, the Corps placed large woody debris in the river at the boat launch site. The Corps has an easement to place wood and gravel at the site, but they are aware they need to place it in a manner that maintains the boat launch. The usual contractor understands this, but was not available to do the work. Thus another contractor unfamiliar with these requirements did the placement. The wood was placed that Friday in anticipation of a high flow event over the weekend (2/12-13) that would transport it downstream. Flows sufficient for transport of the wood never materialized. Unfortunately, the way in which the wood was placed prevented river access by boaters at the boat launch site.

Tacoma staff became aware of the issue on Wednesday, February 16 and met with the Corps on Thursday, the 17th to advise them that the placement would not allow boater access as per the Friends of the Green settlement and subsequent agreement on river access provisions. Tacoma has advised the Corps that the wood needs to be moved to provide the necessary access. We have contacted Tacoma staff and they will inform us when the put-in is again available for use, hopefully within the week, and we will post an update on the Green River Headworks page. In the meantime, boaters can use the access at the headwall rapid just downstream of the security gate.

It is unfortunate that the information was not communicated to the whitewater community in a timely fashion and the gate guard was not able to provide an adequate response to those who wanted to get on the river this past weekend, but Tacoma is working to address the situation and they have apologized for the inconvenience. Please remember that the gate guard is only following the instructions of the supervisor and if you ever encounter any future situations with access, please contact us. Sometimes it can be frustrating to deal with the lack of information the gate guard has but watershed staff have always been very responsive to issues we have brought to their attention.

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.

Associated Rivers