White Salmon River (WA) BZ Access
When the rural community of BZ Corners was founded in 1930, few could have imagined that this would one day become the primary access point for the most popular whitewater river in the Columbia River Gorge (the take-out for the Green Truss section and put-in for the BZ section) . Over 18,000 boaters from around the Pacific Northwest and across the country enjoy paddling opportunities that are available year around in this federally designated Wild and Scenic River gorge.
While many paddlers historically paid for access across private property, there was concern over what the future held for this important corridor to the river. In fall 2000, the Trust for Public Land acquired this primary access point at BZ Corners and transferred it to public ownership during the summer of 2001. The 11 acre parcel is now managed by the Forest Service as part of the Lower White Salmon Wild and Scenic River. Support for this acquisition ($306,000) came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Forest Service has built a new access trail and slide for rafts (there were liability concerns and operations/maintenance costs associated with the mechanical cable system). There is currently no fee for use of the site, as it was determined that revenue generated would be lost in administering a permit system, but the Forest Service reserves the right to revisit this if use patterns change significantly. The process of removing structures on the property will likely be completed by year's end with the exception of the rest room which has received a face lift. The total cost of upgrades to the site has been $100,000.
Paddlers are urged to contact their Senators and Representative to either thank them or encourage them to support the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Those in Washington and Oregon in particular should encourage support of additional access opportunities along the White Salmon River, and full restoration of the White Salmon River system through removal of Condit Dam. Finally, be sure to thank the folks with the Trust for Public Land who made this acquisition possible.