Port of Woodland Gets Serious About Illegal Offroad Activities – News Release

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News Release
April 30, 2013
Contact: Nelson Holmberg, Executive Director

Port of Woodland Gets Serious About Illegal Offroad Activities

WOODLAND, Wash. – Providing public access to the Columbia and Lewis Rivers for recreational purposes across its properties at Austin Point and Martin’s Bar is an integral part of the Port of Woodland’s mission, and it tries to keep the properties open to the public at all times.

However, due to ongoing unauthorized and illegal use of some of the property by offroaders using everything from small ATVs to big 4×4 pickups, as well as dumping of trash and litter, the Austin Point property will be under increased scrutiny in 2013.

While it’s always been an issue, it has also always been posted that offroad vehicles of all types are not allowed on the port property for the purpose of offroading. With recent direction from the port commission, however, the port has begun to step up its activities to put an end to the illegal offroad activity.

“We’re essentially drawing a line in the sand, so to speak,” said Nelson Holmberg, the port’s executive director. “This has been an ongoing problem that’s always been one with a difficult solution. While the large majority of the Austin Point users are responsible individuals, we’ve always had problems with the offroaders who shouldn’t even be there in the first place.

“For years, we’ve had signage posted that says 4x4s are not allowed. Our beach access permits, on the back, list the rules – including no ATVs,” Holmberg said. “We’ve tried gates that have been locked overnight, but they’ve been stolen and now we’ve simply gotten to a level of frustration that we’ve decided to be more aggressive in doing something about it.”

To that measure, the port has hired a private security firm to provide patrols of the site. Security will warn offenders and give them the opportunity to leave without incident. If they don’t leave, security will contact authorities when illegal offroad activity is caught on the site, and citations will be issued. The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office and Woodland Police Department are on alert about the activity, and both have been known to issue citations for trespassing.

Community outreach efforts will also be executed, with the intent of educating the public about the rules and the hope that people will realize the importance of protecting these properties and public access to the water. A number of other measures will also be taken as the port explores its options for policing the property.

Both Austin Point and Martin’s Bar have areas of wetland space, and do have neighbors that are affected by the noise from offroad activity when it happens at night.

All unauthorized activities on port properties at Austin Point and Martin’s Bar include:

  • ATVs and offroad vehicles of all kinds — including, but not limited to: motorcycles, three-wheelers, quads, 4×4 trucks, 4×4 SUVs, etc. in the trails, wetlands and all grounds when being used for offroad activities
  • Overnight camping
  • Vandalism and/or theft
  • Littering and/or dumping
  • Campfires
  • Cutting wood from the forested areas (collecting loose wood off of the beach is permitted)

To be on port property legally, visitors must have a Port of Woodland Beach Access Permit (also known as a “Port Pass”) which costs $5 and is valid for two years. These passes are can be purchased at the Port of Woodland office (115 Davidson, Woodland), and at Harper’s Outdoors and Tackle (267 Millard, Woodland). Sales of the passes also normally cover the costs of providing portable restrooms and summer security patrols.

“These properties are valuable to the port and to the community,” Holmberg said. “We appreciate the large majority of users who take good care of the property and follow the rules, but unfortunately, there are a few knuckleheads who don’t show the same respect for publicly-owned property, and cause a lot of problems.”

The Woodland Port Commission is committed to keeping the public access to the water open, but they realize that in a worst-case scenario, ongoing illegal offroad activity might force them to change their minds.

“It’s definitely the commission’s strong preference to continue providing public access to the water,” said Commission President Paul Cline. “But, after an in-depth review of this problem with staff and legal counsel, my fellow commissioners and I do reserve the right to close these properties – as a last resort – from public access if the rules are violated to an extent that major damage to the property occurs, causing excessive costs to repair.”

Residents and visitors who have questions about this policy or about the recreational use about the Port of Woodland’s properties along the Lewis and Columbia Rivers, please call our office at 360.225.6555 or email the port at info@portofwoodland.com.

The Port of Woodland owns more than 300 acres of property for light industrial and recreational opportunities in south Cowlitz County along the Columbia and Lewis rivers. The port’s location provides easy access to Interstate 5, rail transportation on the BNSF Railway north-south mainline, and is close to deep draft marine terminals at three major shipping ports. The Port of Woodland is also less than 30 minutes from Portland International Airport and is included within the Portland-Vancouver USA metropolitan statistical area (MSA).

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